Scotland confronts tough spending decisions

By staff

The Scottish government may have to abandon some of its most distinctive policies in the face of sweeping spending cuts, an independent budget review has concluded.

A three-man panel tasked with assessing the implications of funding cuts for Scotland’s public services reported today after being commissioned to conduct its work by Scottish finance secretary John Swinney.

Reassessing the eligibility criteria for concessionary travel and free NHS eye examinations, suspending the final stage in the planned reduction in prescription charges and reviewing free personal and nursing care are among the options being explored.

“There are very difficult decisions to be made over the next few months, requiring strong leadership not just in their making but also in their subsequent implementation,” chair Crawford Beveridge said.

“Our parliament and political parties have an opportunity to show strong leadership by creating the space for conversations to take place about the future of public services.”

Scotland’s budget is set to shrink by £3.7 billion in real terms over the next spending review period.

But Edinburgh will not discover its final budget until the London government finishes its comprehensive spending review on October 20th.

Mr Swinney said: “Once that is done, and we have taken account of the views of Scotland, we will set out a Budget that is focused on sustaining economic recovery and protecting frontline services.”