Analysis: What does the spending review mean for Scotland?

The Chancellor has announced £2.4 billion of new funding for Scotland for 2021/22.

Double the funding provided at the last spending round, Rishi Sunak claimed the investment showed “the Treasury is, has been, and will always be the Treasury for the whole of the United Kingdom”.

The message from the UK Government was one of strong support, funding so substantial that Tories were lining up to explain just how brilliant it is.

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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack remarked: “Never before has the strength of the Union, and the role of the UK Treasury, been more important."

Rishi Sunak today unveiled his spending review

Scottish Tories leader Douglas Ross said Mr Sunak had "gone further than any government in peacetime history to protect jobs and support public services".

The government’s own spending review paper, coming in at 120 pages, added: “At the heart of this is the government’s mission to level up across the UK, ensuring economic opportunities for everyone and unleashing the potential of the Union.”

After a premiership that has so often ignored Scotland or actively worked against it, today there was a clear focus to remedy that. The horse has bolted, but here is a vague amount of money.

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Where is the money going?

Firstly, the £2.4bn goes through the Barnett formula, so will be up to Holyrood to spend on devolved areas such as health and social care, education and housing.

There was also £20 million for each devolved nation to support the fisheries sector in 2021/22. This suggests hard times are coming for the industry, with the sum unlikely to address any problems caused by a tumultuous exit from the European Union.

Brexit was not mentioned once during the speech, with the Chancellor ignoring the financial black hole in the room.

There was also an increase for the Scotland Office, handed a seismic £800,000 more for the year 2021/22. Whether the price of a top-end Porsche is enough to defend unionism in an election year remains to be seen.

Scotland will also receive more than £100bn of capital investment across the UK in 2021/22 focusing on improving connectivity and productivity.

There was also the reveal of the Shared Prosperity Fund, to replace the European Union structural funding following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Mr Sunak vowed this would “ramp up funding so that total domestic UK-wide funding will at least match EU receipts, on average reaching around £1.5bn a year”. In other words, it’s a sweeping fund to keep things the way they are.

On top of that is £11m in additional funds next year for Scottish regional growth deals for the Borderlands, Tayside, Moray and the islands. Importantly, these were already agreed with the Scottish Government before today’s announcement, so are simply being sped up.

There was also an announcement of a pay freeze for public sector workers.

With public sector pay in Scotland decided by Holyrood, finance secretary Kate Forbes must now decide whether to follow suit. Being unable to provide a rise because of a lack of Westminster support seems an open goal for nationalists.

Mr Sunak has made a series of promises throughout his meteoric rise. Whether the treasury really is for the whole of the UK remains to be seen.

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