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Mr Crawford’s analysis is quite right: without the tax policy announcements of a UK budget and the tax, social security and economic forecasts produced by the OBR for a UK budget, which determine the block grant adjustments, the Scottish Government simply cannot know how much money is available to spend next year. Without a new date for the UK budget, we do not know when that certainty will come.
I wrote to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the prospective chancellor—earlier this month, to express concern and to stress that the UK budget should proceed as soon as possible after the general election. I also stressed the need for early dialogue and information sharing with the Scottish Government after the election. I have not had a reply to my letters. Therefore, I do not know about UK ministers’ comprehension of the situation. I am sorry to say that I fear that they are not too interested in the effective working of devolution or the public services of Scotland.