Forbes admission

Health budget cut to pay for business support

Kate Forbes new

Kate Forbes: challenging (pic: Terry Murden)

Money is being taken from the Scottish health budget to pay for Covid-related business support, the finance secretary has admitted.

Kate Forbes told a parliamentary committee that the government had been forced to make “challenging decisions” in order to help companies hit by the additional Omicron restrictions.

In a letter to the Finance and Public Administration Committee she sait this meant “repurposing” health consequentials that had been allocated to Holyrood by Westminster.

The Treasury has provided advance funding of £440 million to help the Scottish government pay businesses, although the Scottish government insists that only £175 million is additional money with the rest brought forward from future budgets.

Ms Forbes said that meant other budgets would have to be cut to make the payments to business.

In the letter she said she was seeking an urgent meeting with the finance ministers of each of the devolved administrations and the UK Government.

“Any negative reconciliation would have a serious impact on our public services and hamper our attempts to recover from the pandemic,” she wrote.

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