£10m allocated elsewhere
Mackay admits Brexit fund spent on other purposes
Derek Mackay: ‘not able to mitigate all impacts’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Millions of pounds intended to help Scotland prepare for a no-deal Brexit has been spent on other things by the Scottish Government, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has admitted.
Westminster last year handed the Holyrood government £37.3million in Barnett consequentials from its £1.5 billion Brexit preparation fund.
However, in a parliamentary answer to Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie, Mr Mackay admitted he spent more than a quarter of the fund – £10m – on other issues.
The SNP government has received a further £54.7million in the current financial year, but Mr Mackay has not said where the money has gone.
“Derek Mackay is doubling down on the Tories’ economic incompetence with this decision. A no-deal Brexit will never be a credible option, but neither is blowing preparation funding which could shield Scottish businesses from the worst excesses of a new Tory Prime Minister.
“Derek Mackay and the SNP should come clean over why they have misused this funding and what they intend to do to ensure Scottish jobs are not put at risk from their actions.”
In reply, Mr Mackay said: “Funding from the UK Government is not ring-fenced for a specific purpose and it is for Scottish Ministers to decide on allocation.
“While we will continue to prepare as best we can for leaving the EU with the limited resources we have, we are not able to mitigate all of the impacts completely.
Brexit ‘dithering’ warning
Scottish firms are delaying investment plans because of continuing “dithering” over the UK’s future relationship with Europe, according to a survey.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the political deadlock over Brexit had seen costs rise as manufacturers stockpile raw materials and capacity utilisation is at its lowest level in ten years.
Tim Allan, president of the Chambers, said: “Businesses are weighing the costs of the chaos caused by more dithering over Brexit and the burden is severe. Our members are crying out for the return of some sanity as they undertake the important role of creating jobs and paying taxes.
Tim Allan: ‘next PM must take brisk action’
“Whoever the next Prime Minister will be, they must take brisk action to unlock investment and instil confidence back into the UK economy. Scottish businesses need to see steps being taken to avoid a disorderly Brexit and a responsible consensus reached as soon as possible on the Brexit process with the European Union.”
He added: “Since the initial cliff edge Brexit of 29 March, the pressure on firms has eased slightly but the underlying trends point to an economy running on fumes. The majority of firms for all sectors in the survey are putting off investment and say this trend will continue over the summer months. All are desperate for some kind of resolution to Brexit before the October 31 deadline.
“A future government must be quick out of the blocks to work with the business community in tackling some of the most pressing problems holding back investment, growth and productivity.”