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Johnson backs union vow with £1.9bn Scots top-up

Boris Johnson in Orkney: commitment to communities

Boris Johnson has followed up his trip to Scotland by handing Nicola Sturgeon a £1.9 billion top-up to help fight the affects of the Covid-19 virus.

The Prime Minister declared his commitment to supporting communities across the UK during a visit to Scotland aimed at selling the benefits of the union.

He has backed up the pledge with a new cash payment that takes the total additional support since March to £6.5bn over and above the normal Spring Budget allocation.

It should provide the Scottish government with enough financial flexibility to plan for the months ahead, said the Treasury in a statement issued tonight.

Any changes to the devolved administrations funding are normally confirmed at the end of the financial year, but the Treasury said the new finance means the Scottish Government has the certainty to spend it immediately on the NHS and additional business support.

We said we would do everything we could to support the whole of the UK – and that is exactly what we have done

– Steve Barclay, Treasury minister

The latest funding is on top of the 2019 Spending Round settlement which was the biggest day-to-day funding increase in a decade.

It follows the Prime Minister’s visit to Orkney on Thursday where he reaffirmed his commitment to the union, and pledged to “build back better”.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay, who will be in Edinburgh on Friday, said: “At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we said we would do everything we could to support the whole of the UK – whether that’s saving jobs or ensuring our vital NHS has the equipment it needs. And that is exactly what we have done.

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“Today we go one step further by giving the Scottish Government the certainty they need to plan their own support schemes over the next few months.

“This is yet another sign of our support for the Union and commitment to securing an economic recovery for the whole of the United Kingdom.”

To date, more than 890,000 jobs in Scotland have been supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Scotland has also received support from the Plan for Jobs, including the Job Retention Bonus, and VAT cuts for hospitality and tourism.

However, nationalists argue that the UK government is merely borrowing money on Scotland’s behalf which Scotland could do for itself if it had the powers.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who will meet Mr Barclay in Edinburgh on Friday, tweeted: “This funding package from UKG is v welcome.

“We’ll use every penny to combat the impact of Covid-19. Of course, UKG has the borrowing powers required to fund the response to this crisis – powers SG is still deprived of but urgently need. We need agreement on fiscal flexibilities.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “It’s great news that the UK Treasury is providing the Scottish Government with a total of £6.5 billion in additional funding to tackle coronavirus, on top of their block grant.

“This will give them certainty of funding for the rest of the financial year, helping them to plan investment in the economy and public services effectively.

“Direct funding to the Scottish Government is on top of the UK Government’s unprecedented package of measures across the UK, to protect jobs and ensure our economy bounces back from covid.

“That includes supporting nearly 900,000 Scottish jobs through our furlough and self-employed support schemes, thousands of business loans and a VAT cut for our tourism and hospitality sector.”

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