Spending trends in the 2024-25 Scottish Budget

23 January 2024

The Scottish Fiscal Commission has today published new analysis of the Scottish Government’s spending plans. The Commission compares spending between 2022‑23 and 2024‑25 using COFOG, a set of internationally recognised functional categories. By looking at the most recent spending position in 2022‑23 and 2023‑24, the analysis complements the Scottish Government’s presentation which compares spending between years based on the position when Budgets were first set. This provides further insight into trends in devolved spending.

This new analysis shows spending on social protection, which covers the devolved social security payments, is the only category with steady and rapid growth, increasing in real terms by 28 per cent between 2022-23 and 2024-25. Spending on health has not kept up with inflation, mainly because its capital spending has fallen substantially, by 15 per cent in real terms between 2022-23 and 2024-25. Health resource spending, covering day to day costs such as wages, will be at the same level in real terms in 2024‑25 as in 2022-23 after falling slightly in 2023-24. However, the big fall in capital spending means that, overall, the Scottish Government plans to spend less in real terms on health in 2024-25 than it did in 2022-23.  


Notes for Editors

1.The Commission’s paper, Spending trends in the 2024-25 Scottish Budget is available now. An accompanying spreadsheet contains the data for tables and charts.

2.The paper uses the United Nations’ Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) which classifies spending by function. It groups public spending into functional categories such as health, education, or public order. Classifications are standardised enabling comparisons over time and internationally.

3.In undertaking this analysis we have uncovered a number of technical challenges which we discuss in detail in an Annex to the paper. We encourage the Scottish Government to publish and share with us spending data that enable more detailed analysis and note that their usefulness would be even greater if some of the complexities relating to their collection and presentation could be resolved.

4.We pre-announced publication for 1 pm on Monday, 22 January 2024. Our data provider asked for additional time to quality assure the data on which this publication is based. On Friday, 19 January 2024 we announced the paper would be published at 9.30 am on Tuesday, 23 January 2024.

5.The Scottish Fiscal Commission is the independent fiscal institution for Scotland, established by the Scottish Fiscal Commission Act 2016. Our statutory duty is to provide the independent and official forecasts of Scottish GDP, devolved tax revenue and devolved social security spending for the Scottish Government to use in its budget and financial planning. The Commission’s forecasts will also assist the Parliament’s scrutiny of the Scottish Budget and Budget Bill.

6.Our paper represents the collective view of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, comprising the Commissioners: Professor Francis Breedon, Dr Domenico Lombardi, Professor David Ulph, and the Chair, Professor Graeme Roy.