Draft Budget 2012-13 - Call for evidence

Scrutiny of the forthcoming spending review and draft budget for 2012-13: Preventative spending

The Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2012-13 and spending review will be published in September 2011.

The Finance Committee has agreed that part of its scrutiny of these documents will focus on the extent to which the Scottish Government is encouraging a more preventative approach to public spending and how this approach is being implemented and shared across key agencies such as Community Planning Partnerships, NHS boards, local authorities and police forces. This scrutiny builds on the work carried out by the Session 3 Finance Committee which published a major report in 2011 on preventative spending.

Report on preventative spending

In essence, preventative spending aims to prevent negative social outcomes arising or attempts to eliminate or lessen the impact of such outcomes once they have arisen.

The Report on preventative spending set out some of the costs to the public sector in reacting to current social problems and argued that a preventative approach would be a better way of tackling these problems. It also set out the views of the then Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth who said that “the whole concept of preventative intervention lies at the heart of the Government's policy interventions”.

This Finance Committee has agreed to build on the work of its predecessor and focus on preventative spending in its scrutiny of the forthcoming spending review and 2012-13 draft budget. Given this background, the Committee would welcome responses to the following questions—

  • The previous Scottish Government said that: “Preventative action is integral to the approach to government in Scotland and delivering the outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework”. What spending commitments and priorities would you like to see in the 2012-13 draft budget and spending review in order to ensure that progress is being made on preventative spending and, in particular, Early Years intervention?
  • The Scottish Government has emphasised an outcomes based approach through both the National Performance Framework and Single Outcome Agreements. What, if any, additional national and local indicators would you like to see as a means of supporting the shift towards a greater focus on preventative spending?
  • The Scottish Government’s response to the Committee’s Report on preventative spending stated that: “The Spending Review that will follow the Scottish elections in May will provide another opportunity for the Scottish Government to support delivery agencies in their efforts to increase the proportion of their budget dedicated to preventative activity.” What support should the Scottish Government provide in its spending review to support delivery agencies in increasing preventative activity?
  • What long term planning is carried out to fully deliver on preventative spending strategies and how do you plan for this within short term budget periods?
  • What baseline evidence is used to measure preventative outcomes?
  • In oral evidence to the Committee, COSLA stated that: "we want budgets to be thought of more as being part of the public purse than as belonging to the council or NHS". To what extent are you able to pool your budget, or even reallocate budgets to other agencies, and make joint spending decisions through initiatives such as the Integrated Resource Framework?
  • The Committee will be writing separately to individual Community Planning Partnerships but would welcome views from other interested organisations on what elements should be in the spending review and the 2012-13 draft budget to support more effective collaborative working in moving towards a more preventative approach to public spending?
  • How can good examples of collaboration be encouraged and shared nationally across key agencies and what is the role for the Scottish Government here?

Community Planning Partnerships

A key challenge identified in the report was the need for better collaborative working between Scottish public bodies in tackling Scotland’s social problems. In its response to the Committee, the Scottish Government indicated that it saw community planning partnerships (CPPs) as an important way to foster better collaboration. A summary of the key points from the Committee’s report and the Scottish Government’s responses that are of particular relevance to the questionnaire can be found here:

The Committee is therefore contacting all CPPs to request their views on how collaborative working actually works in practice, what challenges remain and how best practice is being encouraged and shared nationally across key agencies. The specific questions to the CPPs are—

  • To what extent has preventative spending been embedded within the CPP’s work so that it focuses on trying to prevent social problems arising rather than on dealing with their consequences?
  • Can you provide specific examples of where the CPP has been effective in developing a preventative approach on (a) a collaborative basis and (b) an individual agency basis?
  • What baseline evidence is used to measure how preventative outcomes are being achieved?
  • What are the main barriers for the CPP to overcome in developing more effective collaborative working and moving towards a more preventative approach to public spending?
  • In oral evidence to the Committee, COSLA stated that: “we want budgets to be thought of more as being part of the public purse than as belonging to the council or NHS”. To what extent are CPP partners able to pool their budgets, or even reallocate budgets to other agencies, and make joint spending decisions through initiatives such as the Integrated Resource Framework?
  • Are new financial and governance arrangements needed to strengthen this process?
  • What long term planning is carried out by CPPs to fuller deliver on prevantative spending strategies and how do they plan for this within short term budget periods?
  • The Scottish Government’s response to the Committee’s preventative spending report stated: “The Spending Review that will follow the Scottish elections in May will provide another opportunity for the Scottish Government to support delivery agencies in their efforts to increase the proportion of their budget dedicated to preventative activity.” What support would the CPP welcome?

The call for evidence is now closed.