Finance Committee recommends improvements to budget scrutiny

29/06/2009

Improvements to the parliamentary process to enhance the level of scrutiny of Scottish Government spending are recommended in a Finance Committee report published today.

The report makes a series of recommendations designed to improve the process, including:

  • that a “strategic budget scrutiny” phase should take place at least once each parliamentary session, replacing “Stage 1” of the budget process, which has not taken place since 2004
  • that the Scottish Government should consider the introduction of a new system to inform the Finance Committee of the cost of policy announcements above a specified threshold
  • that subject committees should continue to build financial scrutiny into their inquiries into areas of Scottish Government policy
  • key elements that should feature in any allocation of additional resources to support budget scrutiny
  • proposed changes to the terminology around the stages of the budget process.

Committee convener, Andrew Welsh said: “Throughout the inquiry evidence has shown that, in the main, the Parliament’s budget process has been found to work well. However, there are some areas where we feel that improvements can be made.

"In particular, mainly due to circumstances outside of the Parliament’s control, there has not been a “Stage 1” of the budget process since 2004. We are therefore recommending that time is set aside at one point during each parliamentary session for a strategic budget phase to take place. This would allow committees and individual MSPs to examine the Scottish Government’s spending programmes and policies in a more strategic manner.

"In addition, a key issue for the committee has been the resources available to support budget scrutiny. We welcome the recent commitment from the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to examine this issue in detail and look forward to their proposals for enhancing effective scrutiny.”

Further information
Full details on the current budget process can be found on the budget process webpage.

Full details of the Review of the Budget Process (including all written and oral evidence) can be found on the committee’s dedicated webpage.

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