'Unacceptable if Covid funding for Scotland is constrained by English decisions', says Nicola Sturgeon ahead of Boris Johnson update
Nicola Sturgeon has said it will be “unacceptable” if Covid funding for Scotland and other devolved nations is “constrained” on the basis of Covid decisions made by Boris Johnson for England.
Her comments come with Mr Johnson expected to announce on Monday the scrapping of the legal requirement for Covid self-isolation in England and free testing.
Scottish Government officials have said quarantine should remain for those with the virus alongside widespread free testing.
A new Covid strategy for Scotland will be announced at Holyrood on Tuesday.
Speaking on Monday morning during a visit to Social Bite in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: "We are back again being starkly reminded of this illogical position that the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have to deal with, which is we’re responsible for public health decisions in our own countries, but it’s the Treasury who makes the funding decisions and they seem to be only triggered by the decisions Boris Johnson makes for England.
“That’s unsustainable and unacceptable, but that’s the situation we’re in.”
The First Minister said she hoped there would be clarity around what the remaining funding for testing will be.
It is understood a Covid Cabinet meeting was delayed on Monday because of a dispute over ongoing free testing costs, which health secretary Sajid Javid is said to support, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not.
Ms Sturgeon said she “expressed frustration” to Michael Gove the Scottish Government still does not know the decision the UK Government will make and this delay “deepens that”.
Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “If Sunak wins, the concern is more than just an end to free access to testing in short term (a decision I don’t agree with) - it’ll also be hard for UK to retain adequate testing capacity for longer term surveillance & response to new variants.”
She added: “Presumably, England is not going to take away its testing infrastructure completely so what will the residual funding be and what will that enable the devolved administrations to support.
"It would be unacceptable now, as it has been in the past, for the decisions that the Scottish Government or the Welsh and Northern Irish governments think are right for public health reasons are constrained because of decisions on funding that the Treasury are taking."
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