Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP, again said today on Good Morning Scotland that Scotland had not faced budget cuts but it had increased in real terms. While Derek MacKay, SNP Finance Secretary, argues it had fallen by 9.2% in real terms, don’t you just hate the f language used, real terms!


The Fraser of Allan Institute has tried to explain who is telling the truth and who isn’t, and it is bloody confusing whichever way you look at it as the politicians, as always, pick the stats they like and obviously discard the ones they don’t.

Scotland’s budget is made of TME ( Total Managed Expenditure ) which is then split up into two areas, DEL (Department Expenditure Limit) and AME (Annually Managed Expenditure). You then have differing elements within DEL.

Fiscal Revenue DEL has decreased by 6% (1.7 Billion) since 2010/11.

Non-cash DEL has increased by around 300 million since 2010/11.

Capital DEL has decreased by 16%, around 600 million, since 2010/11 however the Scottish Government can now borrow more money but obviously this then gets paid back with interest.

The AME budget is £6.5bn in 2017/18 and this has increased by 27% in real terms since 2010/11. This money is mostly taken up by pensions and the Scottish Government have no discretion over this budget at all as it’s administered via the Westminster Government.

NDRI (Non-domestic rates) is another part of AME and has increased by 14% since 2010/11. This is basically the tax we receive from businesses.

But what does all this actually mean?

According to FAI the amount of money the Scottish Government has to spend (the budget) on services has decreased by 5% since 2010/11. Non cash DEL has decreased by 7.4% since 2010/11. TME has basically increased by 0.4% and of course all of this is in real f terms.

So basically depending on what figures you want to use Murdo Fraser is telling some of the truth but not a lot and Derek MacKay is telling some of the truth but a bit more than Murdo Fraser. What a shambles.

But whichever way the politicians want to play games with the statistics they use, or the semantics of their analysis, you cannot hide the fact that there have been cuts, huge cuts. Just look at the approximate figures below for my own local authority:

Dundee City Council Cuts
2011/12 – 14.5 million.
2012/13 – 10 million.
2013/14 – 10 million.
2014/15 – 3.3 million
2016/18 – 28 million.

These ‘real term’ savings have had a real impact on how many staff are employed within Dundee City Council and how services are delivered, not much of it good depending on your point of view. However, I wish politicians on all sides would stop playing f games with the figurers, we are talking about all of our lives here, it’s not a f game.



  1. Ian Gibson

    The difficulty with those bald figures is that they’re not reflecting a ‘steady state’ financial environment for either the government or the councils: in both cases, the changes reflect the change of some responsibilities for each. So, as an example, in the years you list above, both the Police and Fire Services became the responsibility of central government, and local councils no longer had to fund them. A report by the Scottish Parliament Research Centre in 2105 found that in fact the Scottish Government had ‘overfunded’ the council tax freeze, and councils were actually better off than if they had been allowed to raise council tax in line with RPI (story here:

    • Anonymous

      After hearing Murdo Fraser I thought I would have a wee look and see what I could find and it was not as easy as I thought it would be to be honest. The figures are all over the place and no one really knows what the real state of play is. The Fraser of Allan Institute was about the best I could find but it wasn’t really the figures that I was after it was more about Murdo Fraser’s assertion that there had been no cuts when we know there has been, we all see it everyday. What I found was that they are all at it and I just feel we deserve better to be honest, I am getting very bored with all of their games and lies I suppose.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. bjsalba

    Where did you get the figures for Dundee Council? From what I hear, Councils are getting a lttle more money, but more of it is ring fenced – which limits their ability to splurge large amounts on vanity projects and neglect their statutory duties.

    • Anonymous


      I trolled the Council website, councillor websites, the union website and papers to try and get an accurate picture as they figures are all reported differently. I checked them out with a friend who is in the know a little and he thought I was not far off the mark but it wasn’t easy. But it was really about Murdo Frasers assertion that there had been no cuts which we all know is rubbish and it was pretty much rubbish, he was playing games a lot more than the rest with what he was saying and I am just sick of their games now, we deserve better politics than this crap.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Gary F

    And to top it all off real terms refers to a fruitcake system of inflation measurement which misses out ‘pricing’ on massive parts of what these budgets are expected to be spent on. So not only is the whole system deliberately opaque from a comparison perspective the actual inflation adjustment used on each part of the budget is irrelevent anyway.

    e.g. Health price inflation runs at a much higher rate than CPI or RPI so technically a real terms increase in the health budget is still a cut.

    Sorry to cloud the issue further!!

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