South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP to ask him to make the case for coronavirus funding pledges to be honoured by Boris Johnson – after the UK Government backtracked on £70 million worth of funding for business and charities in Scotland.
On 2nd May, the UK Government announced a £617 million extension to business grants, which it advised would generate £60 million of funding consequentials for Scotland under the Barnett Formula. However, the UK Government informed the Scottish Government last week that this additional funding would not now materialise, which will cause concern for businesses and industry in Dumfries and Galloway.
Furthermore, last month £35 million of consequentials was earmarked to the Scottish Government in respect of charity support direct grant, but this was amended by the Treasury to £25 million at a later date.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Trust is so important as all four nations of the UK tackle coronavirus and it is widely accepted that the Scottish Government has been extremely constructive in its engagement with the UK authorities to tackle this emergency in a joined up way. Funding commitments from the UK Government have to be taken in good faith as we work through this pandemic, but the fact that Boris Johnson’s government has simply pulled the rug on £70 million of funding completely undermines the whole process.
“During the independence referendum campaign Scotland was promised that the Barnett Formula would remain in place. This system was set up to ensure that Scotland would receive a fair share of UK spending based on our particular rural challenges. Now they’re re-writing the rules so they don’t have to pass on the cash.
The Scottish Government has already allocated the spending on businesses and charities based on the belief that the UK Government would honour its word, but now it won’t receive it.
I’ve now written to Mr Jack to ask him if he knows what the financial impact will be on businesses in his own constituency, Dumfries and Galloway, and called on him to urgently seek reassurance from his colleagues in the Treasury that future funding announcements will be robust and reliable enough to act upon without creating unnecessary financial risks.
“We’ve already seen the Scottish Government take action to fill gaps in UK-wide support schemes, so the last thing we need is an additional financial burden put on businesses in Dumfries and Galloway because of the Treasury’s shameful decision to short-change Scotland.
“The UK government must act immediately to ensure the £70 million they promised is allocated as quickly as possible and in its entirety, so that the Scottish Government can continue to protect jobs as businesses in Dumfries and Galloway and the rest of Scotland.”
Link to Scottish Government release, including letter from Kate Forbes MSP to the Treasury – www.gov.scot/news/covid-funding-plea/
Link to UK Government funding announcement – www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme