Health service benefits from unspent cash

An additional £90 million Scottish executive funding has
been made available to the health service in Scotland to allow new
NHS boards to wipe out deficits.

The announcement was made by Susan Deacon, health minister, in
the same week as it emerged that health and education services were
the main beneficiaries of the reallocation of Scotland-wide
underspends. The additional funding will prevent major crises in
services such as the threatened 200 redundancies at Lothian
University Trusts.

Overall, there was a £718 million underspend in Scotland
representing approximately 4 per cent of total budgets and less
than that of most Whitehall departments. This includes a massive
£121.9 million underspend due to the delay in the transfer of
Glasgow Council’s housing stock.

Departments are allowed to retain 75 per cent of underspend then
bid for a share of the remaining pot.

In announcing that health was a major winner in this bidding
process, deputy finance minister, Angus McKay, warned of tighter
controls. McKay said: “I am concerned that the executive is not
making use of the considerable growth in the Scottish budget as
quickly as possible. I have therefore taken a much more rigorous
approach to examining departmental underspends and their
entitlement to carry forward money this year.”

McKay is to introduce monitoring at quarterly intervals to force
departments to justify their spending decisions throughout the
financial year.

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