Scottish budget date set as John Swinney frets over Tory calendar commitments

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The date for Scotland’s next budget has been announced amid heightened uncertainty caused by the rogue government in Westminster.

John Swinney said on Thursday that Holyrood would receive the next budget on December 15 – but warned that continuing ‘turmoil and uncertainty’ around the UK’s budget – which must come before Scotland’s – is worrying officials from Edinburgh.

This was the latest possible date when the date of the next update could be announced due to concerns about the timeline needed for an independent review of the government’s plans.

Kwasi Kwarteng is due to present the next budget – after its “fiscal event”, which shook markets and torpedoed government credibility – on November 23.

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The Scottish Fiscal Commission – Edinburgh’s economic watchdog – needs 10 weeks to prepare its forecast which helps Holyrood scrutinize the government’s spending plans.

Swinney – who is acting finance secretary because Kate Forbes is on maternity leave – expressed concern about the UK budget timetable, telling the Holyrood finance committee: “It is becoming less and less clear whether the government Britain will publish the OBR forecast earlier than the originally announced date of November 23.

He hinted that his officials feared the UK budget date could be changed, citing the “uncertainty and volatility” of the current Conservative administration under Liz Truss.

He added: “I must stress that this risks creating an exceptionally difficult timeframe for the delivery of the Scottish budget.

“In these uncertain times, we will need to be prepared to adapt flexibly and cautiously to ensure Scotland’s interests are better protected.

“As you know the SFC needs a minimum of 10 weeks to prepare its forecast and given the uncertainty and volatility of the UK Government’s plans we may need to revise our plans if there is has implications for that 10-week period.”

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