Covid-19 Spending Transparency Will Be Increasingly Difficult
15th September 2021
The Scottish Government estimates it has spent over £8.8 billion of the £9.3 billion allocated to support Covid-19 spending in 2020/21.
However, transparency around what is classed as Covid-19 spending across government portfolios remains challenging in a fast-moving and unpredictable environment.
Over 300 individual spending measures have been announced to date, with the largest amounts going to business, health and social care, and local government. Spending has been funded by £8.6 billion of additional Barnett consequentials from the UK Government in 2020/21, and by reallocating funding from existing budgets.
£1.15 billion in Barnett funding was carried over to the 2021/22 budget. But the UK Government has not guaranteed the level of Barnett funding for 2021/22, as it did in 2020/21. This makes medium-term financial planning and dealing with uncertainties arising from the pandemic more challenging.
Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland, said: "As Scotland moves into the recovery phase from the pandemic, it will likely become increasingly difficult to define what is, and what isn't, Covid-19 spending."
The Scottish Government is managing financial pressures which predate the pandemic, such as spending on health and social care.
That means difficult decisions lie ahead and, despite the challenges, it increases the need for a medium-term plan to manage the levels of uncertainty and volatility facing the Scottish budget.
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