#ScotBudget - the devil is in the details

A lot of people have been shocked by the Scottish Government's budget. It certainly wasn't what anyone was expecting.

The First Minister had previously said that her top priority was improving Scotland's education system.

This has become especially important given that the OECD - one of the foremost sets of experts in the world - warned that Scottish education is losing its lead against our competitors around the globe.

So what was astonishing about the SNP budget was the way it singled out our local education authorities for the biggest cuts in the whole budget book.

It's hard to see how we can give an excellent education to everyone, and lift those from poorer backgrounds up so they can achieve their potential, against that grim backdrop.

The SNP had choices in this. On taxation they decided their top priority was to match the UK Conservatives on income tax, on second home tax, on business rate poundage and even undercut them on council tax. So it's hard for anyone to understand why they put that emphasis on matching George Osborne' tax agenda in London ahead of the education of our children here in Scotland.

Elsewhere in the budget, Scottish ministers will face some hard questions about their support for mental health given that they haven't passed on the £60million they were awarded by the UK, and have a mental health strategy that runs out on 31st December 2015 with no replacement lined up for the start of 2016.

Everyone will also want to make sure they get the details right on their support for the joint work between local authorities and the NHS on social care. This is a big area of agreement between all parties and we need to make sure that the right support is there for those people, especially the elderly, who have so much to gain from improvements and better care.

The detailed scrutiny of the budget now takes place with a final decision and vote taken in the new year.

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