Draft Budget 2014-15

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th December 2013.

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Photo of Mark McDonald Mark McDonald Scottish National Party

No, it is not. We know that the Scottish Government is going to have money available to it in future years to fund what it proposes this year. What I am saying to Mr Gray is that the additional money from consequentials is additional only for the next two financial years—I am simply sounding a note of caution on that.

I will conclude by touching on preventative spend. During the budget scrutiny process, I was a member of the Health and Sport Committee and we looked at preventative spend as part of our budget scrutiny. There are two key areas that would merit further examination, on which the cabinet secretary may be able to respond in his closing comments. The first of those is how preventative spend is being modelled and monitored by public bodies. The allied health professionals said that they feel that there is a lack of an evidence base in relation to their sectors, although the Royal College of Nursing highlighted work that is under way on a pan-UK level through the Office for Public Management. I would be interested to know from the cabinet secretary whether the Scottish Government has been able to feed into that or see the work that is being done.

The second question, which relates to how we ensure that we get the best out of preventative spend, concerns the fact that the people who spend the money are not necessarily the people who derive the benefit from that spend. Sometimes, I feel that there can be a reluctance on the part of some public bodies to say that they will make significant preventative spending decisions because it might not be their area that would derive the benefit. For example, a preventative spend in education might deliver a significant future saving not in education but in criminal justice. We need to ensure that such issues are being borne in mind and that silo thinking does not creep into the preventative spending agenda.