The Scottish Government has been forced to make £680m of cuts from its budget this year largely to finance pay rises for public sector workers, the Deputy First Minister has revealed.
In a statement at Holyrood, she told MSPs that public-sector pay deals in Scotland had cost £800m more than the figure ministers had originally budgeted for in 2023-24.
She said this meant that a series of savings had to be found elsewhere, listing a number of projects and areas where funding was being cut.
The reductions include £10.5m from the future transport fund, which supports the creation of green infrastructure including better bus facilities and electric car charging points.
A further £28m is being cut from agricultural budgets, which it is hoped will be returned in future years, while £6m in reserves held by Forestry Land Scotland is also being redeployed.
Ms Robison said she had sought to protect spending on the NHS and investment in schemes such as the Scottish Child Payment, which provides cash for low income parents.
She said the latter was an example of Holyrood acting to “try and mitigate the impact of Westminster austerity”, but warned that ministers were “now at the limits of what it is possible to mitigate within the powers of devolution”.
She also voiced concerns that Wednesday’s Autumn Statement would result in tax cuts being “prioritised over investment in public services”.
She told MSPs: “Bluntly, when Westminster consistently underinvests in public services it means we have less funding to spend on our public services in Scotland.”
Ms Robison also said there should be specific help with fuel bills, calling for the £400 energy bills support scheme to be reinstated, and for a social tariff to be set up to help more vulnerable consumers.
Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith said Ms Robison had “reverted to the SNP’s usual tactic of blaming everything on Westminster”.
She added: “She needs to take responsibility for the £1bn black hole in Scotland’s finances, our faltering growth and the huge cuts that she is proposing today for health, education, transport and, as usual, our forgotten rural economy.”