SCOTLAND is poised to go into debt for the first time in more than three centuries after the SNP Government indicated that it is preparing to use borrowing powers for the first time.

Under new responsibilities, the Scottish Government can borrow cash for infrastructure spending.

It is entitled to borrow some £316 million next year and while it left the power untouched last year, it is expected to use it for the first time imminently.

It is the first time Scotland has been entitled to borrow independently of the UK since the 1707 Act of Union.

A Government spokesman said: “Scottish ministers have to date not drawn down borrowing in 2015-16, but have indicated they will use the borrowing powers if required to support infrastructure investment this financial year or in 2016-17.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney’s Budget, which is expected to be approved by MSPs, includes plans to spend one quarter of a billion pounds more on capital projects compared to the previous 12 months.

The Scotland Act 2012 enables Scottish ministers to borrow for capital purposes up to a cumulative maximum of £2.2 billion.

Eben Wilson, the director of TaxpayerScotland, warned the Government against using the new powers.

He said: “Scotland is party to vast UK debts. We are still running a huge deficit and with oil revenues 90 per cent down this year that will be increasing.

“To go and borrow yet more is foolhardy.”