Draft Budget 2014-15

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

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Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I accept that point. Surely that is what performance assessment is about; otherwise, there is no point in putting in a policy framework that tests the policy direction of a Government. When it does not work out, we find that our policy interventions are not correct.

It matters to me what is in Scotland performs, and I look at it on a regular basis to determine whether the Government’s interventions are satisfactorily delivering the policy outcomes and objectives that we want to achieve. That seems an elementary aspect of the assessment of performance.

The focus of the Government’s budget that is before Parliament remains on improving economic performance. The skills investment that we set out, the £8 billion-worth of capital investment over a two-year period, and the investment in our college and university sector exceeding £1.52 billion in 2014-15 are all part of the Government’s programme of activity to strengthen our economic performance.

I will close by making some remarks about the wider sustainability of public finances. The Finance Committee is absolutely right that preventative interventions are crucial to delivering sustainability of public finances and to the transformation of the way in which we deliver services. However, I do not take the same view as the Finance Committee that disinvestment in particular public services is the key measure or indicator. Surely if we follow the logic of the centrality and importance of Scotland performs, the achievement of better outcomes for our citizens will be the test of whether we are meeting the needs and expectations of the public.

Scotland performs is assembled on the range of different indicators of public service performance, impact and improving outcomes for members of the public that are a direct consequence of the investments and interventions that we make as a Government. Through the shift of emphasis into preventative measures—whether through reshaping care for older people, through the early years change fund or through the reducing reoffending change fund—the Government remains focused on delivering the decisive shift to prevention that I set out in the spending review, which remains at the heart of our public service reform agenda.