DELAYING the UK Budget “unreasonably constrains” the ability of the Scottish Parliament to set its own spending, public finance minister Kate Forbes has said.

In response to a question from fellow SNP MSP Gil Paterson, Forbes said responsibility for the delay is wholly down to the UK Government.

Chancellor Sajid Javid announced last month that the early November Budget in Westminster would be postponed due to the General Election.

Given that 40% of Scottish Government funding comes from a block grant from the UK Government, the Scottish Government has also been forced to postpone its own Budget, which was due in December.

Forbes said the Scottish Government learned about the postponement “through the media”.

She added: “We will not have clarity on the funding available for public services in Scotland in 2020/21.

“That delay, and the uncertainty, unreasonably constrains our ability to plan future spending and the associated time for parliamentary scrutiny.

“The UK Government has compromised the ability of the Scottish Government to deliver certainty over public spending next year.”

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Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser made the point that all major parties in London wanted a General Election, and asked if the minister would agree “the SNP MPs in Westminster must take their share of responsibility for the position they’re now in?”

Forbes replied: “I’m sure that the member will understand that this is an issue that faces not just the Scottish Government, but also all members in this chamber who believe in scrutiny.

“With the UK Government’s position changing significantly in relation to the General Election, the Scottish Government has to consider its approach to the Budget and we will continue engage with Parliament and the Scottish Fiscal Commission in light of the various options that are available to us.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie asked the minister whether it would be useful for the leaders of the Scottish Labour and Conservative parties to write to their “Treasury counterparts” to “insist that their parties commit now that the UK Budget will be no later than the first week in January”.

The minister agreed, saying: “If members of the two main parties could put pressure on their own counterparts in Westminster to ensure that we have as much certainty as possible on when the Budget is, then that would be in everybody’s interest.”