Budget Process Review Group

Remit

“To carry out a fundamental review of the Scottish Parliament’s budget process following the devolution of further powers in the Scotland Act 2012 and Scotland Act 2016.  To bring forward proposals for a revised budget process which are consistent as far as possible with the principles of the Financial Issues Advisory Group for consideration by the Finance Committee and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution.“

Final Report

The Budget Process Review Group's Final Report is published below;

Interim Report

The Budget Process Review Group's Interim Report was put out for consultation on 10 March and can be accessed here;

The consultation closed on 28 April and the written responses can be accessed below;

The Budget Process Review Group commissioned external research from Joachim Wehner Associate Professor in Public Policy, from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Professor Wehner's report is published below;

Membership

Scottish Parliament

Dr Jim Johnston (Chair)               Clerk, Finance Committee
Dr Stephen Herbert  Senior Assistant Clerk, Finance Committee
Allan Campbell  Head of Financial Scrutiny Unit, SPICe
 David Eiser  Adviser, Finance Committee

Scottish Government

 John Nicholson              Deputy Director for Financial Scrutiny and Outcomes
 Aidan Grisewood  Deputy Director for Fiscal Responsibility
 Scott Mackay  Deputy Director for Finance Programme Management
 Simon Fuller  Deputy Director for the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser

 External Experts

  • Caroline Gardner, Auditor General
  • Don Peebles, Head of CIPFA Scotland
  • John Ireland, Chief Executive, Scottish Fiscal Commission*
  • Professor James Mitchell, Director of Academy of Government, University of Edinburgh
  • Dame Sue Bruce, Non Executive Director
  • Dr Angela O’Hagan, Glasgow Caledonian and Gender Budgeting expert
  • Elaine Lorimer, Chief Executive of Revenue Scotland
  • Professor Mike Danson, Heriot-Watt University

* John Ireland took over from Sean Neill, Interim Chief Executive, from May 2017.

Approach

Stage 1: Assess the likely impact of the increased level of responsibility  to the effectiveness of the existing budget process arising from the new powers including the potential impact of:

  • forecasting of tax receipts and demand-led social security spending;
  • the operation of the indexation mechanism;
  • the calculation of the adjustments to the block grant;
  • the reconciliation between tax receipt forecasts and outturn figures;
  • the UK Government’s Autumn Statement;
  • the availability of relevant outturn data;
  • associated revenue effects of tax change behaviours.

(This Stage should include a review of the Draft Budget 2017-18 process.)

Stage 2: Devise a revised budget process which addresses the increased level of responsibility  within the context of the FIAG principles:

  • Provide opportunities for the Parliament to comment on expenditure priorities and to influence the Executive’s preparation of Budgets;
  • Provide the opportunity for the public to have the opportunity to put their views to subject committees, as well as individual MSPs at an early stage in the process;
  • Provide sufficient time for the Parliament to consider and debate proposals fully;
  • Provide balance between the requirement for Parliamentary scrutiny and the needs of the Executive;
  • Provide some degree of certainty so that on-going activities can continue without prolonged uncertainty;
  • Provide an efficient mechanism to deliver motions to be debated by the Parliament;
  • Provide a meaningful role for subject committees and the Finance Committee;
  • Deliver timeous decisions on tax varying power and the Budget (as well as the interim spending approval and budget amendments);
  • Engages all MSPs;
  • Facilitates the Executive’s formulation of proposals; and
  • Provides for the right of amendment.

Timetable

  • Stage 1 to be completed by end of February;
  • Stage 2 to be completed by end of May ;
  • Report findings to Ministers and Finance Committee  for agreement before Summer recess;
  • Plenary debate in the Chamber on agreed changes to the Written Agreement in early September;
  • Write to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee with recommendations for any associated changes to the Standing Orders before Summer recess.

Finance Committee Clerks

Scottish Government Officials

August 2016