Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 07:38 UK

Scotland 'to delay' share in Westminster cuts

From Democracy Live: Finance Secretary John Swinney gives evidence to the Finance Committee

The finance secretary has said he is likely to put off Holyrood's share of the UK government's £6bn cuts in public spending until next year.

John Swinney told BBC Scotland he has ruled out compulsory redundancies in devolved government departments and agencies.

He also pledged to match Westminster's plans to boost NHS spending.

New UK chancellor George Osborne will detail the Conservative and Lib Dem plan for cuts next week.

The Lib Dems had opposed plans to make £6bn savings this financial year during the election campaign, but signed up to the immediate spending cutback under the coalition deal.

Mr Osborne said the debt crisis in Greece was "a reminder of what happens when governments lack the willingness to act decisively and quickly".

I think it is highly unlikely that we'll opt to take the impact in 2010/11 because what that would do would be to undermine economic recovery
John Swinney
Finance Secretary

But there is an acknowledgement that the Scottish government has set its budget for the coming year and the UK government has given Scotland the chance to postpone the savings.

Mr Swinney is not sure what the Scottish government's share of the cuts will be but he is convinced they would damage economic recovery.

He told Newsnight Scotland the "likelihood must be" he will accept the offer to defer the cuts by a year, but admitted it would create a "double whammy" of cuts in the following year, kicking in after the Holyrood elections.

He said: "We will have to see what decisions are made at UK level to decide on the areas from which those sums of money are taken."

The finance secretary said the impact on Scotland could be in the order of £500m a year.

"I think it is highly unlikely that we'll opt to take the impact in 2010/11 because what that would do would be to undermine economic recovery and the Scottish government has made it absolutely clear that we will take no decisions that will undermine economic recover," he added.

"So the likelihood must be that we will defer the impact of those issues until 2011/12 but clearly that will make for a very serious situation in 2011/12."

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