Better Budget Management by SNP Government Ministers Could Have Avoided Cuts in Schools Last Year

11 January 2014

 

Laurie Bidwell

SNP Ministers at Holyrood underspent by almost half a billion pounds in 2013-14, according to a final out-turn report lodged at the Scottish Parliament the day after MSPs left for their Christmas holidays.

The government had £444 million left over from its £34.5bn budget last year, or 1.3 per cent of the total.

This was the first time that an underspend had exceeded £350 million since the SNP came to power in 2007.

The underspend is usually less than one per cent.

To get this into perspective, the projected underspend in the 20014/15 accounts for Dundee City Council is £45,000 (Dundee City Council, Policy and Resources Committee, 12 January 2014 - Revenue Monitoring Report). According to the Director of Corporate Services this represents 0.01% of the Council's net Revenue Budget for 2014/15.

At a national level, the underspend by SNP ministers was proportionately 130 times larger.

What a pity that these government ministers could not be as vigilant in deploying the cash that is available?

Although the £444m will still be available for use this financial year, it means public services missed out unnecessarily on better funding in the last financial year.

The table above shows that, £165 million of the £444 million underspend by the Scottish Government in financial year 2013/14 was within the education budget.

These were resources that could have poured into schools.

Across Scotland there are 4,000 fewer teachers in Scotland since the Nationalists took over and, in breach of their promise, primary school class sizes are bigger now not smaller.

That £165m underspend on education was enough to employ 4,459 teachers, so they could have cancelled out their education cuts.

 

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