Criminal Justice Pre-Budget scrutiny: 2023-2024

Closes 21 Oct 2022

Opened 21 Sep 2022

Overview

On 31 May 2022 the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy Kate Forbes MSP published the Scottish Government’s Resource Spending Review Framework. This set out the Scottish Government’s scenario for budget spending of £180 billion over the four remaining financial years of the current Scottish Parliamentary session (Financial year 2023/24 to Financial year 2026/27).

In the Framework, the Scottish Government set out a scenario for the allocation of £11.6 billion of public spending to the Scottish justice system over these four financial years as follows:

  • 2023-2024: £2,839 million
  • 2024-2025: £2,839 million
  • 2025-2026: £2,954 million
  • 2026-2027: £2,969 million

These proposals, if realised, would represent an across the board, flat cash settlement for almost all parts of the justice criminal justice system in Scotland.

The UK Office of National Statistics currently estimates that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) has risen by 10.1% in the 12 months to July 2022, up from 9.4% in June. A flat cash outcome would represent a significant real-terms reduction in spending across the justice sector if the current trend of high inflationary pressure continues into the medium to long term.

What might this mean for justice spending?

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has produced the following information to indicate what this settlement may potential mean, in real terms, if the current economic climate persists for the next few years.

Any real-terms shortfall in funding over this period may be substantially better or worse that the current estimate, depending on the inflationary pressure in each year up to 2026/27.

This estimate may also be affected by the forthcoming UK Government emergency budget, and the outcome of the Scottish Government’s Emergency Budget Review, which the Scottish Government has confirmed would take place within two weeks from the forthcoming UK Government emergency budget.

SPICe estimates that resource spending will fall in real terms by £102 million, or 3.6%.

A graph showing real terms changes to the Justice and Veterans Resource budget by value and percentage

There will be a cut to resource spending of 7.8% across the portfolio. These include the following reductions:

  • Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland: £97 million
  • Scottish Prison Service: £29 million
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service: £23 million
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service: £13 million
  • Legal Aid: £12 million
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals: £8 million

SPICe's analysis also says that capital spending will also decrease in real terms by £5.2 million, or 3.1%.

A graph showing real terms changes to the Justice and Veterans Capital budget by value and percentage

Two elements of the portfolio will get an increased amount of funding:

  • The Scottish Prison Service will receive an increase of £2.7 million (or 3.7%)
  • The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will recieve an increase of £600,000 (or 11.8%)

However, other elements of the portfoilio will see their funding their funding cut by 6% in real terms. These include the following reductions:

  • Legal Aid: £10,000
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals: £500,000
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service: £1.9 million
  • Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland: £2.7 million

Questions

The Criminal Justice Committee would like to hear your views, or those of your organisation, on this situation:

  • What are your views on the impact of a possible real terms cut in the funding for the Scottish justice sector for the financial year 2023/24?
     
  • What are your views of the impact of a possible real terms cut in the funding for the Scottish justice sector for the financial years over the longer term if the present rate of high inflation continues beyond 2023?
     
  • Any other comments you may wish to make on the impact of the possible flat-cash settlement on the Scottish justice sector or the budget more widely.

The deadline for submitting a response is 11:59 pm on Friday, 21 October 2022.

Interests

  • CJ