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[ 26-06-2013 ]

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Spending Round statement on his plans for the year 2015-16, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Whilst the budget for the Scottish Government seems at first sight to have escaped some of the large scale reductions that some UK departments are set to suffer, the fact that the Government at Holyrood, like their counterparts at Westminster, have so far chosen to protect huge budgets such as health from any cuts means that constraints on Scottish spending are likely to continue in 2015-16.
“In addition, the introduction of £296 million of capital borrowing powers for the Scottish Government in 2015-16 will still only result in an overall annual capital budget of £3.3 billion, which is equivalent in cash terms to the annual capital budget the Scottish Government had before the last Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010-11.  This investment needs to be leveraged directly to where it will make the biggest difference for the Scottish economy and to Scotland’s businesses, eliminating any unnecessary bureaucracy.
“Capital spending, particularly on connectivity and housing, remains key to securing Scotland’s future growth prospects and whilst the Spending Round is welcome in terms of its focus on these areas, delivery in Scotland is likely to remain a challenge for Government over the next three years.
“Getting the most effective bang for the taxpayers’ buck ought to be top of the Scottish Government’s agenda and this might be an opportune moment for it to look back to the report of the Independent Budget Review, commissioned by the Scottish Government itself and which reported in July 2010, to measure how many of its recommendations have been implemented effectively over the past three years.
“In terms of the wider implications of the Spending Review, there are welcome moves to reduce the cost of the public sector to business, to increase real terms spending on defence equipment, to support exporting and to provide tax incentives for shale gas drilling.  However it is clear that the focus remains on austerity and public spending will remain tight for at least the next three years.  Governments north and south of the border will need to do more with less.”