Scotland set for almost £100m 'COP26 union dividend'

Public bodies and government agencies are set to receive almost £100m from the UK Government in a ‘COP26 dividend’, it can be revealed.

A total of at least £87m to public bodies has been signed off by the UK Government already, with that figure likely to be closer to £100m after the climate change conference is over.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal the UK Government Cabinet Office has agreed to pay at least £87m to cover the costs of staging the conference and to help health and emergency services cope with the additional pressure caused by up to 30,000 visitors.

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The figures come as the Scottish Government refused to comment on what its official plans for the conference were, or what it had budgeted for the event, despite a freedom of information request.

The Armadillo, Exhibition Halls and SSE Hydro, on the Scottish Event Campus alongside the River Clyde in Glasgow, which will host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (Cop26) next month.

The Scottish Conservatives labelled the additional funding another “significant union dividend” and an example of how the union can work for Scotland.

Police Scotland, by far the largest beneficiary due to the increased officer presence and planning for policing the conference, is set to receive at least £65.5m from the UK Government in additional funding.

The Scottish Government’s transport agency, Transport Scotland, will also receive just under £10m to help cover costs for facilitating the conference.

Emergency services are also to get a boost with the under strain Scottish Ambulance Service receiving just under £6m and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service receiving more than £2m.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which will be under additional pressure due to the high numbers of visitors to the city, is to receive more than £4m.

Public Health Scotland, the health watchdog, is to receive at least £83k from the UK Government.

Previously disclosed correspondence between the government also sets out additional funding for the criminal justice system, totalling around £11.5m.

In emails between officials, one Scottish Government official outlines approximate costs to the criminal justice system in Scotland from COP26 as equalling around £11.5m, with £2m being given to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

The Crown Office is also set to receive additional funding from the UK Government, as is the Scottish Prison Service, according to the memorandum of understanding between the two governments.

Scotland’s environmental regulator, which has been running at below capacity since a cyber attack crippled its services around Christmas 2020, is also to receive additional funding.

Correspondence estimates this will reach around £240,000.

National Services Scotland, which runs procurement for NHS Scotland, will also receive additional money from the agreement.

This would put the total additional funding at around £99.5m.

All of the costs disclosed by the Scottish Government are considered to be “forecast only”, with the final additional funding from the COP26 dividend to be based on “actuals incurred” from staging the event.

Reacting, the Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesperson, Liz Smith, said COP26 would boost Scotland’s economy and proved the strength of the union.

She said: “The UK Government’s successful bid to host COP26 will be a major boost to our economy and will see action to tackle our climate emergency taken from the heart of Scotland’s biggest city.

“The strength of working together as part of our Union is clearly shown by the huge financial contribution the UK Government will be making to ensure it runs smoothly.

“Scotland’s public services are once again benefitting when it matters most from a significant union dividend.”

Responding, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These arrangements ensure no financial detriment to Scotland’s public services as a result of work delivered to support COP26. All funding is for identified spending on the hosting of COP and there is no funding coming from these arrangements beyond COP expenditure.

“We are proud to welcome COP26 to Scotland, knowing how important the summit is to accelerating international action on the climate emergency.

"We have been working very closely with the UK Government and partners, including Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland, to deliver a safe, secure and successful COP26 in November.

“We are delivering an ambitious programme of events to advance our climate agenda, strengthen collaboration and showcase the climate action taken across Scotland.

"We will use our position as co-chair of the Under 2 Coalition to help deliver ambitious outcomes at COP26, and demonstrate that global climate action requires action by governments at all levels.

"Final details of our programme will be announced shortly.”

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