Kate Forbes

Kate Elizabeth Forbes (born 6 April 1990) is a Scottish politician who has served as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy since 2021, having previously served as Cabinet Secretary for Finance from 2020 to 2021. A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), she has been the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency since 2016.

Kate Forbes

Official portrait, 2021
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
Assumed office
20 May 2021
First MinisterNicola Sturgeon
Preceded byHerself (Finance)
Fiona Hyslop (Economy)
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
In office
17 February 2020  19 May 2021
First MinisterNicola Sturgeon
Preceded byDerek Mackay
Succeeded byHerself (Finance and the Economy)
Minister for Public Finance
Deputy Finance Secretary
In office
27 June 2018  17 February 2020
First MinisterNicola Sturgeon
Finance SecretaryDerek Mackay
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byBen Macpherson
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
Assumed office
5 May 2016
Preceded byDave Thompson
Majority15,861 (36.8%)
Personal details
Born (1990-04-06) 6 April 1990 (age 31)
Dingwall, Scotland
Political partyScottish National Party
Alma materSelwyn College, Cambridge
University of Edinburgh

Early life and education

Forbes was born in Dingwall in Ross and Cromarty in northern Scotland.[1] Growing up, she spent three years in India, then was taught in a Scottish Gaelic school.[2] She returned to India at the age of 10 and lived there until she was 15, with her father involved in providing healthcare to people who could not afford it.[1] She returned to Glasgow, Scotland and finished her schooling at Dingwall Academy. She read history at Selwyn College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA in 2011, then studied at the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MSc in Diaspora and Migration History in 2013.[1]

After two years of working for Dave Thompson MSP, she studied to become a chartered accountant for two years in 2013, before working for Barclays for two years.[3]

Political career

Scottish Parliament

Official parliamentary portrait, 2016.

In August 2015, Forbes was selected from an all-women shortlist by local SNP members as their candidate for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency held by Dave Thompson who would not be standing at the next election.[4] She was part of an SNP campaign to address the gender pay gap around employment in the Highlands.[5] She was elected in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.[6][7]

She was Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Gaelic, until November 2018 when she had been promoted to a ministerial post in the Scottish Government.[8] She has spoken in favour of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status as a possible way to protect the language.[9] In March 2018, she delivered an entire speech to the Parliament in Gaelic during a plenary debate on the language.[10]

Forbes called on the Government to let children practise religious belief in school without mockery in May 2018, saying "I wanted to note that pupils should be allowed to explore, develop and understand the diversity of religious faith in Scotland because if they can understand it in school you will hope that as they go through the rest of their life they will be tolerant of people who believe that things are different to them."[11]

On 27 June 2018, she was appointed to the Scottish Government as Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, as part of a wider reshuffle announced by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.[12][13]

Finance Secretary
Forbes at Scottish Government press conference on Coronavirus.

On 6 February 2020, she became the first woman to deliver the Scottish Budget upon Derek Mackay's resignation as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work. Prior to this, no woman had delivered a Budget in either the Scottish Parliament or Westminster, although they have in the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies.[14] On 17 February, she was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance—the first woman to hold the post.[15]

During the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election, Forbes told business leaders she wanted a second independence referendum to be held once the "immediate impact" of the pandemic was over.[16]

On 6 May 2021, she was re-elected with a majority of 15,681 votes, 7,000 more than in the previous election.[17]

Personal life

Forbes is a member of the Free Church of Scotland.[18] On 25 January 2021, she publicly announced her engagement to Alasdair Maclennan.[19]


  1. "Political class". Edit magazine. University of Edinburgh. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  2. Freeman, Tom (28 May 2018). "Getting to know you: Kate Forbes". Holyrood. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  3. Nutt, Kathleen (17 February 2020). "PROFILE: Who is the new Finance Secretary Kate Forbes?". The National. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  4. "Katie Forbes gets SNP nod in bid to succeed Dave Thompson as MSP". The Inverness Courier. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  5. Burns, Janice (22 February 2016). "SNP launches campaign to plug pay gap in rural areas". The National. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  6. "Election 2016: Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch". BBC News. 6 May 2016.
  7. "Current MSPs: Kate Forbes: Personal Information". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  8. Parliament, Scottish (28 November 2018). "Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Gaelic" (PDF). The Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  9. King, Diane (20 July 2017). "Calls to boost Gaelic language with Unesco status". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  10. Webster, Catriona (29 March 2018). "SNP MSP delivers entire Holyrood speech in Gaelic". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  11. "Christian Scottish politician says constituents are telling her stories of religious bullying - Premier Christian News | Headlines, Breaking News, Comment & Analysis". premierchristian.news.
  12. "Who's who in Nicola Sturgeon's reshuffled government". BBC News. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  13. Dixon, Andrew (6 February 2020). "Rising star of Scottish politics to take centre stage on budget day, but who is Dingwall-based MSP Kate Forbes?". RossShire Journal. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  14. Barr, Sabrina (6 February 2020). "Kate Forbes becomes first woman to deliver Scottish budget at 29 years old". The Independent. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  15. Carrell, Severin (17 February 2020). "Kate Forbes appointed Scotland's first female finance secretary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  16. Glackin, Michael. "Glib soundbites now rule the day in our politics" via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  17. "Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch - Scottish Parliament constituency" via www.bbc.co.uk.
  18. Editor, Kieran Andrews, Scottish Political. "Kate Forbes is named Scottish finance secretary" via www.thetimes.co.uk.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. Crichton, Torcuil (25 January 2021). "Kate Forbes announces engagement and tweets picture of sparkling diamond ring". Daily Record. Retrieved 25 January 2021.