Public bodies all over Scotland are being asked to return any unspent funds earmarked for the response to Covid by the Scottish Government.
For the Aberdeen Integrated Joint Board (IJB), which runs health and social care services in the city, this could mean up to £9.7 million will have to be returned.
In response to Covid-19, the Scottish Government offered additional funding to IJBs across Scotland.
The money given was earmarked for specific purposes around this and cannot be used to fund new “spending commitments”.
Due to this, any unspent surplus Covid funds are now being asked to be returned.
Still dealing with Covid aftermath
According to Aberdeen councillor Deena Tissera, the Scottish Government wrote to all HSCP (health and social care partnership) and NHS directors of finance on September 12 seeking the return of any Covid monies.
A councillor on the Aberdeen IJB, she said: “I was shocked to learn that the SNP Scottish Government is looking to Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) to return Covid reserves monies when it is still very much dealing with the aftermath of Covid.
“Our accounts, which are to be approved at our meeting on Tuesday, show that current Covid reserves are sitting at £19.7m, of which we have spent around £10m in our August forecast, meaning that the SNP Scottish Government is trying to claw back £9.7m of funding from Aberdeen.
“This is absurd given that the IJB hasn’t received any new money from the Scottish Government for winter planning.
“I know of no legal basis in which the Scottish Government can demand the ACHSCP returns the money.
“And I will strongly be recommending to the committee that we resist the Scottish Government’s strong arm tactics as it is against the best interests of those that are still suffering from Covid and its impact on wider Aberdeen.”
Discussions still at an early stage
An Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership spokesman, which is run by the Aberdeen IJB, said: “Discussions with the Scottish Government are at a very early stage and no formal request to repay Covid recovery monies has yet been received.
“Once final figures have been determined, the matter will be reported to the Integration Joint Board in due course.”
It is said the surplus reserves being returned will be used to mitigate Covid pressures across the wider system in Scotland.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The majority of IJB reserves are earmarked for specific purposes, in particular the ongoing response to Covid-19 and cannot be used to fund new spending commitments.
“Further Covid funding has not been available from the UK Government for Covid related pressures in 2022/23.
“More than £1.6 billion has been provided for social care and integration in 2022‑2023 in addition to support for Covid, and we are committed to increasing spend in social care by at least 25% by the end of this Parliament, an increase of over £840 million.”