Scotland’s funding to tackle Covid doubled to £440m by Treasury

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The amount of UK Government funding Scotland will receive to tackle Covid has been doubled to £440 million.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the increased funding following discussions with the devolved administrations on Sunday.

The UK Government said the additional amounts are being provided to each government on top of their autumn Budget 2021.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland had called for more financial support ahead of this weekend’s Cobra meeting.

However, Ms Sturgeon said that she was checking whether the funding was indeed additional.

She tweeted: “Before we get spin on ‘doubling’: 1/ the £220m announced last week was NOT new or additional (it was actually £48m less than we had been expecting). Seeking confirmation if this new £220m is additional (tho if so £48m will just make up last w/k loss) and if it has to be repaid.”

She said that “to the extent it is new/additional”, the Scottish Government will make sure it goes in full to helping business and the overall Covid effort.

Ms Sturgeon added: “As infections soar and businesses suffer, we still need much more urgency in action/support from UK Gov – so that devolved gov hands not tied.

“To that end, it was disappointing and frustrating that neither the PM nor the Chancellor attended this evening’s Cobra.”

When the UK Government announced £220 million of funding for Scotland earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon said the money was cash “being brought forward from money we were expecting in January and had already budgeted for”.

In total, the UK Government said it had doubled the amount of additional funding available for the devolved governments from £430 million to £860 million, with £270 million going to the Welsh Government and £150 million to the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Sunak said: “Following discussions with the devolved administrations, we are now doubling the additional funding available.

“We will continue to listen to and work with the devolved administrations in the face of this serious health crisis to ensure we’re getting the booster to people all over the UK and that people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported.”

The UK Government said that if the amount of funding provided up-front to each devolved administration is more than the Barnett consequentials confirmed at “supplementary estimates” early next year then the difference will be repaid in 2022-23, or over the spending review period if necessary.

If the Barnett consequentials are higher than the amount provided up-front, the devolved administrations will keep the extra funding.

The Barnett formula is the way the UK Government ensures that a share of any additional funding allocated only to England is provided fairly to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Following the meeting, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said she was “utterly incredulous” that neither the Prime Minister nor the Chancellor were on the Cobra call.

Her spokesman added: “We need more urgency, greater clarity and faster action from the UK. The need is real and the need is now. In the face of the clear advice of public health experts, it is impossible to understand why the UK still refuses to act.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government has provided unprecedented support to people in all parts of the UK since the very beginning of the pandemic, and that support continues.

“The Treasury is doubling the up-front funding available for the Scottish Government to £440 million, giving them the financial certainty they need to progress the vaccine rollout and wider Covid-19 response.

“This is on top of extra money which has already been provided to the Scottish Government to support public services during Covid – £6.5 billion in this financial year alone – plus a record core funding settlement of £41 billion a year for the next three years.

“The UK Government is also continuing to support businesses with loans and VAT cuts for our tourism and hospitality sectors.”

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