‘Eye-watering’ cost of mitigating Westminster policies, claims SNP

A UK Government source dismissed the claims as 'nonsensical'.

‘Eye-watering’ cost of mitigating Westminster policies, claims SNP iStock
A breakdown on spending was provided by Scotland's finance secretary Kate Forbes.

Almost £600m is being spent each year on policies related to reserved matters, according to the Scottish Government.

A breakdown on spending provided by Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes shows that a sum of £594m is being spent in order to “mitigate” a number of UK Government policies, the SNP claim.

But, a UK Government source described the suggestion as “nonsensical” and said that it “merely reveals the grievance culture at the heart of the SNP”.

The funding includes £83m on discretionary housing payments related to the introduction of the bedroom tax in 2013.

The Scottish Government also spent £102m on improving digital connectivity infrastructure in Scotland, £198m on energy efficiency and industries, and £63m on equalities and human rights, areas reserved by Westminster.

However, a UK Government source refuted the claims, saying that “the idea that this spending is somehow mitigating decisions by the UK Government is nonsensical and merely reveals the grievance culture at the heart of the SNP”.

The figures were provided by Forbes in response to a written parliamentary question by SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson.

He described the amount of money being committed as “eye-watering”, as he argued that the Government at Holyrood is restricted by not being able to borrow.

“To protect the people of Scotland, the SNP Government is having to commit a substantial amount from its restricted budget to mitigate vindictive and immoral Tory policies inflicted on our country,” he said.

“Devolution was meant to provide Scotland with the opportunity to do things differently but, without sufficient powers to borrow, the Scottish Government is severely constrained.”

Gibson made the case for independence when a referendum can be held following the Covid crisis.

“Sadly, the direction of travel of this Tory Government means things will only get worse,” he said.

“It is why the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to choose a different path with a post-pandemic independence referendum once the crisis has passed.”

A UK Government source said: “The idea that this spending is somehow mitigating decisions by the UK Government is nonsensical and merely reveals the grievance culture at the heart of the SNP.

“What this does show is the Scottish Government using its record budget of £41bn to fund its own spending priorities in devolved areas.

The source said it was “devolution in action”.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government will receive a record block grant of £41bn per year for the next three years, the highest since devolution, which means the Scottish Government is able to fund the public services it chooses.”