NAVY families at the Faslane base on the Clyde are to benefit from £2 million of cash from banking fines, Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander announced yesterday.
But political opponents suggested it was an attempt to woo voters in the Argyll and Bute seat, currently held by Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid, just months before the UK election.
Mr Alexander has recently faced claims of “pork barrel politics” and unveiling funding announcements in threatened Lib Dem seats. It comes after £20m was provided to pay off a housing debt in Shetland – and this week £2m was unveiled to market Loch Ness.
Mr Alexander said it will make a “huge difference” to thousands of Royal Navy and Royal Marines families in Argyll and Bute.
“Supporting military families and our brave forces across the UK is a crucial part of this government’s drive to create a fairer society,” he said.
The £2m announced yesterday came from Libor fines imposed on banks who tried to manipulate financial markets.
The cash will go to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and contribute to a project to rebuild the Drumfork Club in Helensburgh for naval families who live in married quarters at Faslane. The current club building is nearly 50 years old and run down.
But a spokesman for the SNP said the cash was a “drop in the ocean” compared with the austerity cuts imposed on Scotland. “While of course funding for communities in Scotland is welcome, the timing of these announcements suggests the Lib Dems are rightly worried about their prospects of surviving the coming election,” a spokesman said.
“The Tory government that the Lib Dems have propped up for the last five years has inflicted hundreds of millions of pounds worth of cuts on Scotland and hammered communities in the pursuit of austerity, so today’s funding is a drop in the ocean in comparison. It will take far more than this for people in Scotland to forgive the Lib Dems for their actions.”
Robert Robson, chief executive of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, welcomed the announcement.
“A modern, vibrant families hub will create a 21st century environment to support the crucial operational purpose of the armed forces through the provision of multiple areas of welfare support to sailors, marines and their families and reflects our charitable objectives and strategic partnership with the Royal Navy,” he said.
The Libor fund has been raised through fines imposed on banks for misdemeanours and attempted manipulation of financial markets.
The latest allocation builds on £35m of Libor funding already given to military good causes in previous tranches, £60m to support armed forces personnel, their families and veterans and a further £10m a year which has been earmarked from 2015 to support the Armed Forces Covenant.
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