FINANCE Secretary Derek Mackay will publish Scotland’s Budget on February 6, a whole month before Chancellor Sajid Javid delivers the UK Government’s spending plans.

The Scottish Government is in an unusual position, as ministers in Edinburgh normally lay out their spending plans after the UK Budget, when the Scottish block grant has been set.

The UK Budget was originally due to be held in November but was put back, in part, because of last month’s General Election. The Treasury has delayed its big day until March 11, the legal deadline for councils in Scotland to sort their spending plans.

The Scottish Government intended to announce its spending plans in early December, but the UK Government’s delay has left MSPs facing a fast-track version of the normally three-month long process.

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Mackay will have to draw up his Budget plans without being able to see UK economic forecasts that are published alongside the Budget but has been forced to act to stop local authorities being left in limbo.

Mackay said: “The UK Government’s approach to the Scottish Budget has been completely unacceptable and has shown a disregard for devolution and a lack of fiscal responsibility. The timing of the UK Budget made it impossible for us to publish our own Budget after the UK Government’s without drastically restricting the time for parliamentary scrutiny.

“In these exceptional circumstances, created by the UK Government, it is vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budgets. That is why we have made the decision to publish our budget in February, allowing local authorities to set their budgets and council tax before the legal deadline of March 11.”

There was support for Mackay from Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie. With the SNP forming a minority administration at Holyrood, Budget deals have been with negotiated with the Greens in the previous three years.

Harvie said: “This entirely avoidable crisis has been created by the irresponsible UK Government, and it’s throwing Scottish public services into uncertainty. There is no risk-free way for the Scottish Government to deal with this situation, but waiting until mid-March to publish a Budget would be the most damaging option, so we welcome the announcement that it will be published before the UK Budget.”

However, Harvie added: “The backdrop of Tory chaos must not let us lose focus on what’s actually needed from Derek Mackay – Scotland needs a climate emergency budget which changes direction on polluting transport policies, invests in low carbon solutions and creates new jobs in green industries, while protecting local services around the country.”

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Mackay added that he would “work closely with the Scottish Parliament to agree a timetable for the Budget Bill to allow for maximum scrutiny while ensuring certainty for Scotland’s vital public services”.