Kate Forbes urges Chancellor for same funding support as England
Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes says Scotland has been left in an “unacceptable and unsustainable position” following the announcement of a new financial package for struggling businesses south of the border.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a fresh financial rescue package with an increase in support for businesses in Tier 2 lockdowns.
In a statement to the Commons, Sunak outlined a significant expansion of the furlough replacement scheme, as well as offering cash payments for firms in areas under increased restrictions.
The grants, which could be worth more than £1bn, will also be backdated so companies can claim for the whole time they have been affected by local lockdowns.
Responding to the statement, Forbes said: “The Chancellor has written a blank cheque for business support grants in England, but is refusing to do the same for Scotland. That is an unacceptable and unsustainable position and once again underlines the urgent case for Scotland having control of its own finances.
“We are being kept in the dark on future funding and denied the ability to borrow if we need to – and it is utterly wrong for Scottish business to not have the same level of certainty on financial support that is available to businesses in England.
“The Chancellor must urgently commit to providing the Scottish Government with the funding we require to support Scottish businesses thorough this pandemic.”
She added: “There are elements of the Chancellor’s statement that I welcome, in particular the additional support being provided through the Job Support Scheme and the fact that the UK Government is following our lead in providing support to those businesses that are not forced to close, but are impacted by the restrictions,
“It has taken three announcements in the space of a month on the Job Support Scheme to get to this point, causing great worry and anxiety to businesses. The Chancellor has been too slow, as we are just over one week away from the end of the furlough scheme and many businesses are already in lockdown.
“That is why it is important that the Scottish Government can respond at pace to business need and I am concerned that the Chancellor made clear today that the recent support to businesses in England will not generate further consequential funding for Scotland. The £700 million announced two weeks ago, which is meant to cover all our additional funding pressures for the final six months of the year, is clearly insufficient to mitigate the impact on our economy and public services.”
The Scottish Government will set out its support package on Friday for businesses which may be required to close under the new tier system, which will also be outlined in detail.