Opinions

A predictable budget for an unpredictable year

Written by: Andrew Strong, Assistant Director (Policy and Communications), the ALLIANCE

Published: 13/09/2013

Line by line analysis of a budget announcement can always be certain to evoke the following reactions

Line by line analysis of a budget announcement can always be certain to evoke the following reactions:

  • Is it nearly 2014/15 already?
  • Great, they’ve included (add as appropriate)
  • Oh no, they’ve forgotten about (add as appropriate)

So without wanting to break with tradition here’s my view.  The draft budget for 2014/15 reveals a number of commendable inclusions, such as:

  • £33m in 2014/15 and 2015/16 to maintain the Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Extension of the Change Funds
  • The additional £20m to support active travel, including cycling

We must also welcome the extra finance being directed towards the third sector to deliver health and social care integration.  The sector has a major role to play in this agenda – as acknowledged by the Cabinet Secretary in last week’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee – so additional money to support this is to be welcomed.

But there will be concerns expressed across the third sector about what is missing.

For instance, despite the (understandable) majority of coverage focussing on additional support to alleviate ‘bedroom tax’, assistance through the looming threat to disabled people posed by Personal Independence Payment assessment still remains absent.  We must act to curb the additional stress caused by the new tests or risk inhibiting the ability of people to manage their condition effectively.  Advocacy support is one tool in supporting this approach but we must ensure it is adequately funded.

A referendum year was almost certainly never going to see a radical alteration to the Scottish Government’s financial plans.  However, as we begin to think further beyond next year’s constitutional ding dong we must consider how we respond effectively to Christie’s vision and ensure Scotland places a greater emphasis on its communities, prevention and outcomes.

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