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SNP’s Ian Blackford pushes for answers on ‘additional’ £220million Covid support

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Ian Blackford

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford is pushing for answers on the origins of an additional £220million from the UK Government.

The Treasury doubled the £220million offered to the Scottish Government last week to £440million after discussions with devolved officials.

It will be used to bolster businesses over the festive period, and help with the roll-out of the booster programme.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last night said the initial cash was “not new or additional”.

And this morning, the party’s Westminster group leader echoed that – suggesting the cash is simply an advance on next year’s budget, rather than additional support.

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Blackford said: “The Scottish Government has asked the UK Government to confirm whether or not the money that’s been talked about is additional money or if it is a drawdown from next year’s finances.

“We still haven’t got answers to those questions. But of course, if it is a drawdown from finances from the following year, then that has implications for our budget and spending.

“We need to make sure that we have the resources that we need so we can respond to the crisis.”

Ministers within the party worry that if it is an advance on funds that would’ve already been given to Scotland, the budget set out by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes earlier this month may no longer be viable.

SNP accused of trying to ‘stir up grievances’

News of the funds follows Ms Sturgeon’s announcement on Friday that £100m had been freed up to be distributed to various hospitality sectors. 

Nicola Sturgeon

 

News of the funds follows Ms Sturgeon’s announcement on Friday that £100m had been freed up to be distributed to various sectors. 

This includes:

  • £66 million to eligible hospitality businesses
  • £20 million for the culture sector
  • £8 million for food and drink supply
  • £3 million for the wedding industry
  • £3 million to the tourism sector

The breakdown for the latest funding from the Treasury has yet to be announced.

Murdo Fraser, shadow Covid recovery spokesman, accused the SNP of trying to stir the pot.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: “It is really disappointing that rather than welcoming this essential money that is coming from the UK Government – we just hear from the SNP attempting to stir up more grievance.

“This is real additional money; it is money that has not previously been identified and will be available to this government to assist businesses and individuals who are really suffering now.”

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