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by Louise Wilson
16 December 2021
Nicola Sturgeon urges PM to bring back furlough

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Nicola Sturgeon urges PM to bring back furlough

Nicola Sturgeon has urged the Prime Minister to reinstate the furlough scheme to allow the devolved nations to take “necessary action” against the Omicron variant.

The First Minister warned that not making financial support available to businesses risked “sacrificing the economic recovery” of the UK.

She argued that a “lack of necessary and sufficient” resources must not be a barrier to protecting the public health of the nation.

Earlier this week, the First Minister urged people to reduce social contact ahead of Christmas.

Scottish government advice recommends mixing with no more than two other households at any one time.

New regulations will also come into force at midnight to enforce Covid protections in places of business, including in hospitality.

But the government has stopped short of introducing lockdown or closing businesses.

In the letter to Boris Johnson, the First Minister said she believed these measures needed to be strengthened and restrictions in “high risk settings” were required.

She wrote: “UK funding arrangements mean that the devolved administrations cannot establish at our own hand the financial packages on the scale needed – a point raised repeatedly by all three administrations in recent COBRA meetings.

“This means that while each us has a devolved duty to protect public health, we lack the financial means to support necessary action. Only the UK government can make funding available at the scale required.

“I am therefore appealing directly to you – and urgently – to re-establish UK-wide scheme for furlough or, alternatively, to establish a mechanism where devolved administrations… can trigger such schemes”.

No. 10 has said the Prime Minister would speak to the First Minister in the coming days.

A spokesperson added: "We’ve acted rapidly to support and give the Scottish Government the certainty to spend additional money in the coming weeks – exactly as they have asked in our discussions – and we will continue to listen carefully as that co-operation steps up."

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