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ScotlandIS CEO comments on Scottish Government Budget 2024/5

A £6.3 billion investment in social security and more than £19.5 billion for health and social care form the heart of the Scottish Budget for next year, alongside record funding for local authorities and frontline police and fire services.

With targeted funding to invest in public services and protect the most vulnerable, the Budget underpins the social contract with the people of Scotland, Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary Shona Robison told Parliament. She also outlined policies to grow the economy and progress the commitment to deliver a just transition to net zero.

Difficult decisions have been required to prioritise funding for the services people rely on in the face of a deeply challenging financial situation, Ms Robison added.

The 2024-25 Scottish Budget includes:

  • £6.3 billion for social security benefits, which will all be increased in line with inflation. This is £1.1 billion more than the funding received from the UK Government for devolved benefits in 2024-25
  • £13.2 billion for frontline NHS boards, with additional investment of more than half a billion – an uplift of over 4%
  • record funding of more than £14 billion for local government, including £144 million to enable local authorities to freeze Council Tax rates at their current levels
  • more than £1.5 billion for policing to support frontline services and key priorities such as body-worn cameras
  • almost £400 million to support the fire service
  • £200 million to help tackle the poverty-related attainment gap, almost £390 million to protect teacher numbers and fund the teacher pay deal, and up to £1.5 million to cancel school meal debt
  • almost £2.5 billion for public transport to provide viable alternatives to car use, and increased investment of £220 million in active travel to promote walking, wheeling and cycling

The Finance Secretary said:

“It is an enormous privilege to present my first Budget. A Budget setting out, in tough times, to protect people, sustain public services, support a growing, sustainable economy, and address the climate and nature emergencies.

“At its heart is our social contract with the people of Scotland, where those with the broadest shoulders are asked to contribute a little more. Where everyone can have access to universal services and entitlements, and those in need of an extra helping hand will receive targeted additional support.

“This Budget is set in turbulent circumstances. At the global level the impacts of inflation, the war in Ukraine, and the after-effects of the pandemic continue to create instability. In the UK the combined effects of Brexit and disastrous Westminster policies mean that we are uniquely vulnerable to these international shocks.

“We cannot mitigate every cut made by the UK Government. But through the choices we have made, we have been true to our values and rigorous in prioritising our investment where it will have the most impact.

“We choose investment in our people and public services. This is a Budget that reflects our shared values as a nation and speaks to the kind of Scotland that we want to be.”

Following the budget update on Tuesday, ScotlandIS CEO, Karen Meechan, reacted to the announcement.

She said: “Although we were very pleased to see an increase in funding earmarked to support digital connectivity, it was less encouraging to see tax changes that will have a significant negative impact on the competitiveness of technology companies when it comes to attracting and retaining the very best talent. While we do, of course, recognise we are operating in a particularly challenging economic climate, we believe the new income tax band fundamentally makes Scotland a less attractive place to work and live.

“Feedback from our members consistently highlights attracting staff as one of the biggest barriers to growth for the Scottish tech industry, and this change simply exacerbates that. Our members will now face even greater pressure to increase salaries in order to compete with rival companies hiring south of the border, something which will inevitably restrict the competitiveness of Scottish tech companies. We now look forward to reading the detail of where the additional connectivity investment will be spent and how it might benefit our members.”

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