Scottish Budget confirmed for 6 February before UK Budget

Scotland is to go ahead with a Budget in early February, five weeks before the UK Budget due to legislative requirements to finalise funding for councils

Finance secretary Derek Mackay, SNP member, has confirmed that Scotland will go ahead with a Budget before the rest of the UK, which is counter to normal practice. 

The Scottish Budget will be held on 6 February, despite the delay to the UK Budget due to Brexit departure on 31 January. The Scottish Budget was originally scheduled for 12 December 2019 but was cancelled due to the general election.

The lack of coordination over the Budget has caused anger at Holyrood.

Mackay said: ‘The UK government’s approach to the Scottish Budget has been completely unacceptable and has shown a disregard for devolution and a lack of fiscal responsibility.

‘The timing of the UK Budget made it impossible for us to publish our own budget after the UK government’s without drastically restricting the time for parliamentary scrutiny.

‘In these exceptional circumstances, created by the UK government, it is vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budgets. That is why we have made the decision to publish our budget in February which will allow local authorities to set their budgets and council tax before the legal deadline of 11 March.

‘We will work closely with the Scottish Parliament to agree a timetable for the Budget Bill to allow for maximum scrutiny while ensuring certainty for Scotland’s vital public services.’

Speaking at Treasury questions in the House of Commons on the day the UK Budget date was announced, Sajid Javid said was asked by Alison Thewliss, SNP, Treasury spokesperson to apologise for the failure to inform the Scottish government in advance of the date for the UK Budget.

He avoided the question, responding that it was ‘important when it comes to productivity that the Scottish government plays its role and it should examine its own policies, especially its policies on tax and infrastructure and skills and how it has let down the Scottish people time and time again’.

There are concerns that any major personal tax measures announced in the UK Budget would create further divergence between rUK and Scottish taxpayers, which it would be impossible for the Scottish Budget to preempt.

‘Normally the Scottish Budget would be delivered several weeks after the UK Budget, but with the latter’s delay until 11 March, there is insufficient time before the start of the new tax year on 6 April for the minority Scottish government to prepare and deliver their Budget, never mind getting it approved by the Holyrood parliament,’ said Shirley McIntosh, head of tax in Scotland for RSM.

‘The Treasury has said it will work with Scottish ministers to provide the information it needs but with a month until the Westminster Budget, there would still be the possibility of changes.

with a month until the Westminster Budget, there would still be the possibility of changes.’

‘There is already divergence between income tax rates in Scotland and those in the rest of the UK. The general election campaign suggested that there could be some major tax changes in this Budget and the Scottish government therefore needs to assess the effect of those and the potential for further divergence when reviewing the use of its own tax-raising powers.’


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