JOHN Swinney has announced at least £1.2 billion will be cut from the Scottish Government’s budget which he said was a direct result of the chaos caused by Liz Truss’s failed mini-budget on top of the global inflation and energy crisis.

The acting Finance Secretary said he was committed to protecting “enhanced” pay for public sector workers and “targeted” support for the poorest in society.

Where are cuts coming from? 

The changes announced today totalled a further £615 million in savings, on top of cuts worth £560m signalled earlier in the year, Swinney said.

Most of this – some £400m – will come from the health budget, with cash moved from social care and mental health to other areas under that umbrella.  

But Swinney insisted the overall spend on mental health services would increase as well as on dementia, learning disabilities and autism services.

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Day to day spending across the Government will be cut by £33m, the deputy first minister said, as well as reducing capital spending on things such as marketing by £180m, taking that expenditure to “pre-Covid levels”.

Swinney said: “Taken together, these decisions and those already set out in September, total almost £1.2bn.

“They are not decisions we would wish to make, but in the absence of additional funding from the UK Government, they are decisions we are compelled to make.

“They ensure a path to a balanced budget, whilst also prioritising fair public sector pay offers and recognising that this is critical to the delivery of key public services.

“This Government will also, always, do what we can to support those most affected by the cost of living crisis.”

Criticisms of the budget review 

Opposition members attacked the Scottish Government for funding foreign travel for ministers and announcing no cuts to the constitution budget, which is responsible for planning indyref2.

Liz Smith, the Tory finance spokesperson, demanded the Government drop its commitment to create a National Care Service for Scotland, which it is estimated will cost around £1.3bn over five years. 

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The National Care Service was essential to alleviate the "enormous strain" on the health service, Swinney added before telling Smith the constitution budget could not be cut this year. 

He added no spending on indyref2 was taking place this year so could not be cut to make a difference to the current figures.

Daniel Johnson, Labour's finance spokesperson, demanded Scottish Government ministers take fewer trips abroad as a cost-cutting measure. 

He said: "I note that the Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs [Angus Robertson] has travelled to eight countries in as many months, clocking up almost 22,000 air miles. 

"So what cost control measures are being applied to the expenditures of members of the Government and civil servants?"

Swinney hit back saying the Scottish Government could not be "insular". 

He added: "We've got to be in contact with the rest of the world. It's really important that we maintain that dialogue."

Calls for Westminster to do more 

Speaking afterwards, the Scottish Greens' finance spokesperson called on the UK Government to increase Holyrood's budget in line with inflation "at the very least". 

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He added: "The position that Scotland is now in underlines the huge limitations of devolution, with tax powers so limited that we are treated more like a toddler than a partner in the union.

"We need extra powers even if we are to make basic changes like vary tax rates in-year, borrow the funds we need or maintain an adequate reserve.

“The UK Government has made clear that it has no interest in devolving the financial levers that are needed. It is clearer than ever that independence is the only realistic route to securing the powers we need to operate like a normal country.”

Announcing the Scottish Government’s emergency budget review in Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon, Swinney told MSPs his team had been forced to make “extraordinarily difficult decisions” as a result of the effects of the chaos of Truss’s short premiership.

He also highlighted the global inflation crisis as well as rocketing energy bills caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The rising rate of inflation had wiped around £1.7bn from the Scottish Government’s last budget and Swinney said he had made the case to Westminster to give the Edinburgh administration strengthened borrowing powers to tackle what he said was unprecedented pressures facing the country currently.