Open Government Partnership
Understanding Scotland’s public finances with Young Scot
Nastassja Beaton, from the Public Spending Team in the Scottish Exchequer, blogs on the research the Scottish Government commissioned from Young Scot on young people’s understanding of Scotland’s public finances.
What does public finance mean to young people in Scotland? How can we improve the way we share information about Scotland’s public finances? How do young people want the Scottish Budget spent? These were some of the key questions we wanted to understand as part of the ‘Understanding Scotland’s public finances’ co-design project with Young Scot.
Following the success of Scotland’s Year of Young people in 2018, we were inspired to continue our conversations with young people to learn about their experiences and perspectives of public finance. In partnership with Young Scot, we held three workshops in the first half of 2019 to find out some of these answers.
We were fortunate to work with a range of young people from the Borders and Balfron near Stirling, and the key takeaway was that young people want to know more about Scotland’s finances. The problem is that the term ‘public finance’ seems quite opaque and unrelated to the day to day lives of many young people. This was our first challenge – how do we make tax and spend relevant and engaging to young people?
The breakthrough was taxation – all young people pay tax through VAT so they already help pay for our public services. So we asked which areas of spend they would prioritise and discussed the potential impact of Brexit on Scotland’s spending power. The group also created a set of communication guidelines to help improve how we share information about Scotland’s finances going forward.
The report was launched in Parliament by the Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy with some of the young people who were involved in the project, which involved a lively discussion about Scotland’s fiscal policies!
Received a copy of @YoungScot report on understanding Scotland’s finances from @balfronhigh pupils today – and then debated tax and spend with them! Politicians in the making I’d say… pic.twitter.com/jVDCg4HdF3
— Kate Forbes MSP (@KateForbesMSP) September 12, 2019
This report has been invaluable and is now part of a longer journey to improve how we share information about our tax and spend policies. Thank you to all the young people we spoke with and to Young Scot for producing the report – it can be read in full here: Public Finances – Understanding Scotland’s public finances.
Check back later this week when we’ll be publishing a blog from some of the young people from Balfron High School who were involved in this project!