John Swinney: Westminster funding deal ‘significant distance’ away

Finance Secretary John Swinney with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Neil Hanna

Finance Secretary John Swinney with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Holyrood and Westminster are still a “significant distance” from reaching agreement on new funding arrangements for Scotland, the Deputy First Minister said.

John Swinney and chief secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands had talks in London over the fiscal framework, which will determine how much cash the Scottish Parliament will get from the UK government once MSPs have new tax-raising powers.

The Scotland Bill, which is currently going through Westminster, is poised to transfer income tax powers and new responsibilities over welfare from April 2017.

But Mr Swinney said: “There is still a significant distance to be travelled in getting to an agreement which is consistent with the Smith Commission report.”

The Scottish Government has said previously a deal must be in place in February if MSPs are to be able to scrutinise it and approve the legislation ahead of May’s Holyrood elections.

Mr Swinney said: “We are working hard to make sure that can be delivered by 12 February but that will require a lot of hard work and good faith to make sure it can be done.”

Both Mr Swinney and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have warned the UK government they will not back its latest devolution reforms if they believe the funding deal tied to the Scotland Bill is unfair.

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