Statement likely in New Year

Mackay concedes need to postpone Scottish Budget

Derek Mackay with Nicola Barclay

Derek Mackay with Homes for Scotland CEO Nicola Barclay (pic: Terry Murden)

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the odds on holding the Scottish Budget on General Election day are “very low”.

The official position is that the government is keeping an “open mind” about holding the Budget on its scheduled date of 12 December.

But Boris Johnson’s decision to go to the polls on that day has effectively forced Mr Mackay to consider a new date in the new year.

He told a conference on housing today that there were legal and parliamentary deadlines to meet and that re-scheduling was now being considered.

After addressing the Homes for Scotland event he told Daily Business that he was consulting with parliament on the best way forward.

The Scottish government builds its budget plan around the Westminster budget when it has full knowledge of tax rates and consequentials.

“The reasonable expectation is that it is incredibly difficult to hold the Scottish Budget before the UK government holds its own,” said Mr Mackay.

Asked if he had alternative date in mind he said: “It has to be before the start of the financial year.

“I know the public sector and business wants certainty around tax rates and so on, but without knowing the UK government’s timetable I don’t want to just conjure something up.”

The new UK government will be required to hold a budget before the new financial year starting on 6 April.

Chancellor Sajid Javid has already outlined his spending plans and will be in a better position to call an early Budget should the Conservatives form the next government and he retains his job.

Should Labour or another party win the election they are likely to require more time to prepare.

Either way, a UK budget in late January or early February looks likely, meaning Mr Mackay may have a narrow window in which to announce his own plans.

Mr Mackay told the Homes for Scotland conference that he accepted the need for more homes and a quicker planning process. He said climate change issues had to be higher on the agenda of housebuilders.

See also

More homes needed ‘to avoid decade of undersupply’

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