Magazine article Public Finance

McCabe Defends £281M Scottish Underspend

Magazine article Public Finance

McCabe Defends £281M Scottish Underspend

Article excerpt

The Scottish Executive underspent its £24bn budget by £281m last year, Finance Minister Tom McCabe has revealed.

The 1.2% underspend, however, was well down on the figures for previous years. It compares with £515m in 2003/04 and £402m in 2002/03.

McCabe told MSPs in the Scottish Parliament that much of the money would be used to pay for late capital projects.

He stressed that the underspend was 'not spare money' but a 'vital and sensible mechanism the Executive has at its disposal to ensure we use taxpayers' money in the most effective and efficient way possible.

Des McNulty, chair of the Scottish Parliament finance committee, said: 'This is the best performance and the clearest report we've seen in a budget report since devolution.'

However, the Scottish National Party's finance spokesman, Alasdair Morgan, said it did not take a great deal of imagination to spend all the money. A major question was whether some of the results of this increased efficiency should not be returned to the people who were the source of the revenue: the taxpayers. …

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