The Commissioner is funded through public money, and ultimately through the people of Scotland.
But isn’t the Commissioner independent? How can that be if they get funding in this way?
The Commissioner’s funding doesn’t come through the Scottish Government, but from the Scottish Parliament.
The Commissioner requires Parliamentary approval of their budget each year via the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).
The Commissioner’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March. Each summer, the SPCB writes to the Commissioner seeking a budget for the next financial year and an estimated budget for the year or years after that.
The SPCB looks at the Commissioner’s budget submission and may request oral or written evidence of the bid, agreeing changes if necessary before formal SPCB approval. The Commissioner’s budget submission forms part of the SPCB’s overall budget submission that must be approved by the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee.
The law that sets out the Commissioner’s role says that the Commissioner or a member of their staff has to be responsible for:
- signing their accounts
- making sure their finances are regular and correct
- making sure resources are used economically, efficiently and effectively.
The Commissioner acts in the role of accountable officer, and in this role they are answerable to the Scottish Parliament.
This means that – while the Commissioner is independent – the law does say they should spend the money they get from the public in a reasonable way, and there are systems in place to make sure this happens in practice.
Because the Commissioner is funded by public money, it’s important that their accounts are checked over – or audited – and that as a member of the public you have access to these audited accounts.
Like all public bodies, the Commissioner publishes an annual statement of expenditure each year as well as accounts. This says how much money’s been spent on:
- public relations
- overseas travel
- hospitality and entertainment
- external consultancy.
Our accounts are checked by:
The Commissioner must send their accounts to this person every year. Their office will inspect the accounts.
The Scottish Parliament
The Commissioner receives their approved budget on a monthly basis from the SPCB.
The Advisory Audit Board
The Advisory Audit Board (AAB) advise the Commissioner on, and review, the system of internal control and the arrangements in place for corporate governance, managing risk and auditing financial and management performance. The AAB will provide assurance through a process of constructive challenge.
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