Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon says £220m funding from Treasury will leave Scotland worse off
Scotland will be tens of millions of pounds worse off as a result of "additional funding" provided by the UK Government to tackle coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.
She said the the cash is being brought forward from money the Scottish Government was already expecting in January and falls short of expectations.
The UK Treasury insisted the funding would provide the devolved administrations with greater certainty. A source described Ms Sturgeon’s claims as “utter nonsense”.
Ms Sturgeon previously announced a £100m funding package for hospitality and culture businesses hit by the latest Covid guidance.
Referring to the Treasury money on Twitter, she wrote: "As feared, this is not ‘additional’ money - it is being brought forward from money we were expecting in January and had already budgeted for.
"But it’s actually more concerning than than that.
"The net effect of yesterday’s Treasury announcement appears to be that the Scottish Government is £48 million worse off than we thought we were before the announcement.
"The total we were expecting in January was £268 million…we have just been told the actual amount is £220 million.
"There is though a more fundamental point. Each of the four UK governments is responsible for protecting public health in their own country.
"But only when UKG takes decisions for England is funding triggered, leaving the rest of us trying to protect health with one hand tied."
SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes called for additional funding.
The Treasury announced £220m for Scotland, £135m for Wales and £75m for Northern Ireland.
The money is allocated through the Barnett formula, a mechanism used to reflect spending in England.
The Treasury said it is "confirmed additional amounts" on top of the funding set out at the Autumn Budget.
It said this gives the devolved administrations “the certainty they requested to spend additional funding now rather than waiting for supplementary estimates in the new year".
If the funding provided upfront to each devolved government is more than the Barnett consequentials confirmed next year, then the difference will be repaid.
If the Barnett consequentials are higher, then Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will keep the extra funding.
Responding to Ms Sturgeon’s claims, a UK Government source said: “This is utter nonsense. The Scottish Government is getting an extra £220 million to tackle Covid.
"The Scottish Government will get all the money it is due and the matter is being constantly evaluated.
“We have had intensive talks with the Scottish Government about the money and we are determined to work constructively with them to tackle the pandemic.
"Now is not the time for political games. Rather than manufacturing rows, the focus of us all should be on fighting omicrom.”
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Throughout this pandemic, the United Kingdom has stood together as one family, and we will continue to do so.
"We are working with the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to drive the vaccine rollout to all corners of the United Kingdom and ensure people and businesses all across the country are supported.”
The Treasury said UK ministers will provide a record level of funding to the Scottish Government over the next three years, worth £41 billion a year.
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