THE first-term politician thrust into the limelight by the shock resignation of Derek Mackay will be grilled by MSPs today over the Scottish budget.

Public finance minister Kate Forbes will appear before Holyrood’s finance committee as it considers the draft tax and spending plans for 2020/21.

The Scottish Parliament is currently in recess, however the committee is still meeting because this year’s budget timetable is so compressed.

In most years, it would be published in November or December, but this year’s was only published in draft last week because of a delay to the UK budget, and must pass at Holyrood by March 5.

Education Secretary John Swinney yesterday highlighted a 1.7 per cent real terms increase for his department to £3.57bn.

Speaking at Aberdeen University, he said: “Everyone deserves the same chances to reach their full potential, whatever their background or circumstances, which is why we are increasing the education and skills budget this year by more than £122 million to £3.57 billion, a real-terms increase of 1.7%.

“To help close the attainment gap and improve attainment, we will again invest £182m to the Attainment Scotland Fund.

“This includes £120m in Pupil Equity Funding to be spent at the direction of head teachers, while teacher pay is increasing.”

Labour said the average spent per primary pupil last year was £228 less than in 2010-11 and £129 less per primary pupil.

MSP Iain Gray said: “The SNP have been in power for 13 years and in that time we have seen disinvestment in education and a continuing decline in the quality of education in Scotland. The young people of Scotland deserve better.”