Nicola Sturgeon has raised concerns that Scotland could be left worse off as a result of a funding announcement by the Treasury – despite the UK Government having set out ‘additional’ funds to tackle Covid.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the devolved administrations would receive additional funding in order to help progress the vaccination programme, amidst a rise in cases of the Omicron variant.
However, after the Treasury confirmed on Wednesday that the Scottish Government would receive £220m, the First Minister of Scotland suggested that the funding was not additional, but instead, had been brought forward from January at a lower figure than had been expected.
On Twitter, the SNP leader said that as a result of the announcement, Scotland appeared to be £48m worse off than previously thought.
Of the £430m worth of funding set out by the Treasury, £135m will meanwhile go to the Welsh Government and £75m to the Northern Ireland Executive.
The UK Government indicated that the amounts will be kept under review in the coming weeks.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Throughout this pandemic, the United Kingdom has stood together as one family, and we will continue to do so.
“We are working with the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to drive the vaccine rollout to all corners of the United Kingdom and ensure people and businesses all across the country are supported.”
But raising concerns over the figures, Nicola Sturgeon on Twitter said the Scottish Government had been expecting £268m in funding in January – as opposed to the actual amount of £220m.
She wrote: “As feared, this is not ‘additional’ money – it is being brought forward from money we were expecting in January and had already budgeted for. But it’s actually more concerning than than that…
“The net effect of yesterday’s Treasury announcement appears to be that @scotgov is £48m worse off than we thought we were before the announcement.
“The total we were expecting in January was £268m…we have just been told the actual amount is £220m.
“There is though a more fundamental point. Each of the 4 UK governments is responsible for protecting public health in their own country.
“But only when UKG takes decisions for England is funding triggered, leaving the rest of us trying to protect health with one hand tied.”
In response to the comments by the First Minister, a UK Government spokesperson said: “We are giving the devolved administrations the certainty they need to spend more money in the coming weeks – exactly as they have asked for.
“The usual practice would be to wait for confirmed additional Barnett funding in the new year.
“This money is additional to the Devolved Administrations’ annual funding as confirmed at the Autumn Budget.
“We continue to engage with the Scottish Government in the face of this serious health crisis.”