What we do
We are the independent fiscal institution for Scotland.
We produce Scotland’s official, independent economic and fiscal forecasts to accompany the Scottish Government’s Budget cycle.
The Scottish Fiscal Commission is a Non-Ministerial Office – this means we are part of the Scottish Administration but not part of the Scottish Government ensuring our operational independence.
We are directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament for the delivery of our functions which were set out in the Scottish Fiscal Commission Act 2016.
The Commission must produce two reports each financial year forecasting Scottish GDP, income from devolved taxes and expenditure on devolved social security benefits. Our forecasts inform the Scottish Budget and assist in the scrutiny of fiscal events. The Commission also provides an assessment of the reasonableness of the Government’s borrowing projections. In 2023 we will produce a report on the long-term sustainability of the Scottish Government’s public finances.
We are based in Governor’s House, Edinburgh. We buy in some administrative support services from the Scottish Government, including IT support, human resources and financial services.
Our budget for 2023-24 is £2,485,000.
We are committed to producing high quality forecasts, while being independent, transparent, accessible and open. These commitments are set out in our corporate plan and are informed by OECD Principles for Independent Fiscal Institutions, the Civil Service Code, and the Code of Practice for Statistics.
The need for independent scrutiny of Scotland’s public finances was highlighted by the Smith Commission (2014) resulting from ‘the additional variability and uncertainty that further tax and spending devolution will introduce into the budgeting process’.
The Commission is part of a growing international trend to establish independent fiscal institutions to promote sound fiscal policy and sustainable public finances. The Commission was originally established as a non-statutory body in 2014 as the Scottish Government began to collect devolved taxes. On 1 April 2017 we became a statutory body and our functions expanded to reflect the additional powers devolved in the Scotland Act 2016.
We are required to:
- prepare the independent, official forecasts of all revenue generated from fully and partially devolved taxes. The Commission currently produces five year forecasts of tax revenue for Scottish Non-Savings Non-Dividend Income Tax, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, Scottish Landfill Tax, and Non-Domestic Rates. The Commission also produces illustrative forecasts for the Scottish share of Air Passenger Duty, Aggregates levy and assigned VAT.
- prepare the independent, official forecasts of spending on devolved social security payments including ill health and disability payments, carer’s payments, Discretionary Housing Payments and Employability Services.
- prepare the independent, official forecast of Scottish onshore Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- on at least two occasions in each financial year, lay these independent forecasts before the Scottish Parliament, and lay a further report evaluating these forecasts.
- assess the reasonableness of the Scottish Ministers’ borrowing projections.
- In 2023 we will produce a report on the long-term sustainability of the Scottish Government’s public finances.
We gather data throughout the year from organisations involved in devolved taxes and social security payments in Scotland. When the Scottish Government begins to set out plans for its next year’s Budget, it shares its proposed policies with us so that, using the data we’ve gathered, we can forecast how much the Government’s proposed policies are likely to raise and cost. It means that on the day the Scottish Government publishes its proposed Budget we also publish a forecast allowing Parliamentarians to properly scrutinise the Budget’s policy implications and go on to approve a final Budget ahead of the new financial year. We publish a second forecast half-way through the year to co-incide with the Scottish Government’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy.
The first forecast is published at the same time as the Scottish Government’s Budget usually in December with a second coinciding with the Scottish Government’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy.
The Commission seeks to adhere to the highest standards for analysis possible. While we do not produce official statistics (we produce forecasts), the Commission and our work voluntarily complies as much as possible with the UK Statistic Authority’s Code of Practice for Statistics. Further details can be found in our Voluntary Statement of Compliance.