On 17 September the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth presented the draft budget for 2010-2011 to the Scottish Parliament, emphasising the Governments main intention of protecting programmes that "matter most to the people of Scotland." Primarily, those programmes are (1) investment on frontline public services (e.g. schools and hospitals), (2) investment in the economic recovery plan, and (3) helping households at a time of economic hardship.

The Cabinet Secretary emphasised the impact of the recession and the challenges faced by the Scottish Government in meeting its commitments. In particular, the budget is based on a reduction in real terms of 0.9% of the Scottish Government's Departmental Expenditure Limit Budget compared to last year, being a financial reduction of £500m for 2010-2011. So, with significant pressure on public spending which major projects and plans remain and what is being dropped in the draft budget?

Finance & Sustainable Growth

The capital spending budget will be cut by £129m as a result of the Department of Health capital baseline being reduced, making a capital spend budget of £5.9bn.

The Scottish Government has decided not to take forward the next phase of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link project but will invest in a number of other projects - including investing £30m in the design and development of a replacement Forth crossing and £842.9m in rail infrastructure. A £10m increase in capital investment is proposed for schools and the Government will continue with its £1.25bn schools building programme.

The draft budget also recognises the value of the Third Sector in securing sustainable economic growth and therefore proposes an investment of £20.8m in a development programme and £14.8m in the Social Investment Fund.

Health & Wellbeing

The proposed budget for this sector (covering health, housing & regeneration, equalities & social inclusion and sport) is £12bn. Health spending would increase by 2.4% with £8.5bn to be allocated to NHS Boards and Special Boards. £351.9m is to be invested in the affordable housing programme.

Justice

With a spend of over £1bn a year, this sector provides investment for the police, prison service, fire & rescue services, legal aid, the court service and charities regulation.

£136.8m would be made available for capital investment to develop and modernise the Scottish prison service and prisons estate. In particular, HMP Peterhead and HMP Aberdeen will be replaced. There is also to be a new prison at Bishopbriggs and the replacement of facilities which are now unfit for purpose.

Rural Affairs and the Environment

Over £1.5billion is to be invested before 2013 in the Rural Development Programme and over a period of 3 years £152m is to be invested to support the Government's zero waste strategy (including up to £7.5m in community recycling projects).

Administration

The Administration budget i.e. the budget which provides for the costs of running the core administration of the Government itself, will be cut by £14m.

A full copy of the draft budget can be found at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/284860/0086518.pdf