Call for clarity over Scottish consequences of budget

kate forbesImage copyright Scottish Parliament

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has called for “urgent clarification” on the consequences for Scotland of the £30bn coronavirus budget package.

Rishi Sunak used his first Budget to unveil a number of measures to help the economy in the face of the outbreak.

However, Ms Forbes said it was not clear what the announcement meant for spending in Scotland.

The chancellor said the overall Budget would result in £640m additional funding for the Scottish government.

Ms Forbes said the “vast majority” of these spending consequentials from the UK government were already “baked in” to the Scottish budget signed off by MSPs last week.

She added: “We require urgent clarification on what funding Scotland will receive from the announcements made by the UK government, at a time when the prospects for the economy and public finances remain very uncertain as the short term impacts of Covid-19 unfold.

“It is vital that our businesses, employees, health service and the most economically vulnerable in our society are all protected through this time, and this additional funding will help us in our response.

“We expect full consequentials from this additional funding and need urgent clarification to provide clarity for Scottish businesses and NHS Scotland to ensure we can respond effectively.”

Other spending commitments in the Budget which specifically affect Scotland include:

  • £1m promotional campaign to promote the Scottish food and drink sector
  • £10m over three years to help distilleries “go green”
  • Increase 4G coverage in Scotland from 42% to 74%
  • £5m for trials of 5G mobile networks in Scotland

Mr Sunak said: “This is a budget that will deliver for the Scottish people, with £640m in extra funding for the Scottish government, a significant boost to broadband infrastructure and a package of support for the Scotch whisky industry, among other economic measures.

“Our central mission is to level up and unite people in our shared aims of a more prosperous country, in which opportunity is spread fairly across Scotland and the breadth of our United Kingdom.”

Image copyright EPA
Image caption In his first Budget speech, Mr Sunak warned of a “significant” but temporary disruption to the UK economy from conronvious

Tracy Black, director of CBI Scotland, said Scotland needed “sustained investment” on digital and transport infrastructure, and on education and skills, and she welcomed the announcement of additional funding for Scotland.

“The Scottish government should take note of the Chancellor’s commitment on business rate reliefs to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 and consider how Scottish businesses can be supported in the near-term,” she added.

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish TUC, said: “Ten years too late, prompted by the current crisis, the Tories also seem finally to have realised that you can borrow to spend as well as borrow to invest.

“Announcements on spending for the NHS and infrastructure development are welcome, but they do not compensate for the years of cuts and under investment which have left our economy and public services in such a fragile state.”


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