Boris Johnson says money at centre of Scottish business support funding row 'will be passed on'
The Prime Minister has said Barnett consequentials of “new money” for businesses will be passed on to the Scottish Government as a row over funding continues.
It comes a day after the Scottish Government’s finance secretary claimed on Tuesday the £375 million announced by the Scottish Government was not “new money”.
The row centres around a press release from the Treasury, which previously stated the funding would be “on top of” increased funding already being provided by the UK Government.
It was later amended to say the money “will contribute to” that funding, leading to claims from the SNP the additional funding would mean no new money for Scottish businesses.
Following his statement on Covid-19 to the House of Commons, Boris Johnson was asked by the SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, whether he could give a “personal commitment” the Scottish Government would see the money.
Mr Blackford said: “Can the Prime Minister explain to Scottish ministers why, by the end of the day, there was no new money at all?
"Can the Prime Minister now give a personal commitment that the Scottish Government will get this money, this new money for businesses in Scotland.”
In response, Mr Johnson said the “new money will of course be passed on”.
Speaking before the statement, the SNP’s shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss called on Rishi Sunak to ensure the additional funding would be received by the Scottish Government.
She said: “The Chancellor must urgently hand over the £375m in additional funding he promised the Scottish Government to support businesses through the lockdown. It would be completely unacceptable for the Tories to take this vital lifeline away from businesses in Scotland.
"If Douglas Ross is to salvage any credibility from this Tory shambles, he must immediately get behind SNP calls for the extra £375m to be delivered without further delay.
"He cannot claim this additional funding is vital for the survival of businesses one day and then go into hiding the next when his Tory government fails to deliver."
However, the Scottish Conservatives responded by claiming there was “very little evidence” funding worth £185m of support for businesses announced by the Scottish Government in December was available to businesses.
Mr Ross, the Scottish party leader, claimed £700m, of which £330m is being kept in Scottish Government reserves, had yet to be allocated for spending.
He said: “Businesses are struggling for survival and there’s very little evidence any funding is reaching them from the SNP.
"More money is just sitting there – around £700m is still to be used from the UK Government – but it seems to be trapped in the SNP’s vaults.
“We’ve seen this before from the SNP. They hide how much is actually going to businesses in a fog of different funds. In the end, their Scottish Growth Scheme paid out about half of what was promised.
“More of the same SNP failures to support businesses will force companies to close and cost jobs. Business support urgently needs to be expanded, but the SNP don’t even seem capable of getting the existing money out the door.”
In response, a spokesperson for Ms Forbes said: “The Chancellor promised Scottish business an additional £375m in support before quietly admitting he’d got his sums wrong and there would be no extra money after all. Rather than defending this, the Scottish Tories should be pushing the Chancellor to provide the resources to Scotland that he originally promised.
“At the start of the pandemic we allocated almost £2.3 billion in support for businesses, plus a further £570m since October 2020. Last week we announced an additional £48m to ensure businesses impacted by the level four restrictions get additional and faster access to financial support.”
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