Sturgeon: Sunak’s new Covid-19 measures are ‘unacceptable’

First Minister says it is 'intolerable' that coronavirus funding in England will not lead to extra cash for the Scottish Government.

Sturgeon: Sunak’s new Covid-19 measures are ‘unacceptable’ Getty ImagesGetty Images

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted it is “intolerable and unacceptable” that coronavirus funding in England will not lead to extra cash being given to the Scottish Government.

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced billions of pounds of extra help for firms and workers affected by Covid-19 restrictions in England.

Scottish Tories hailed the “blockbuster support” from the UK Government, but Sturgeon said the Chancellor has told the Scottish ministers that the new measures “won’t deliver any upfront extra cash for Scotland” beyond £700 million of funding that has already been pledged.

The First Minister hit out on Twitter, saying: “Businesses in England have been given, rightly, an open ended commitment to support for as long as needed.

“And @scotgov will be expected to match that for Scottish businesses – with no confirmation that the money will be there to pay for it (& no borrowing powers to raise it)”.

She added: “It is an intolerable and unacceptable position – and deeply unfair to Scottish businesses who deserve the same open ended commitment given to counterparts in England.”

Her comments came after Sunak announced that the Job Support Scheme, a replacement for the furlough scheme which is due to end this month, will be made more generous, with less expected from employers and fewer hours needed to be worked by staff.

Grants of up to £2,100 have also been announced for businesses in the second tier of the English alert system.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes also hit out, saying: “The Chancellor has written a blank cheque for business support grants in England, but is refusing to do the same for Scotland.”

She too described the situation as “unacceptable and unsustainable”, before claiming that the Scottish Government was “being kept in the dark on future funding and denied the ability to borrow if we need to”.

Forbes urged the Chancellor to provide more funding for Scotland, saying: “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 has already claimed the additional £700 million of UK Government funding coming to Scotland is “insufficient” to meet the needs of Scottish people and businesses during the remainder of the pandemic.

But Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government has been clear we will continue to support jobs and businesses in Scotland through the difficult months ahead.

“The Chancellor has today announced a further increase in support through the Job Support and Self-Employed schemes. That additional support for businesses and jobs is very welcome.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Throughout this pandemic, whenever jobs are on the line and businesses are struggling, Rishi Sunak has delivered.

“With this latest increase in financial support, he has gone the extra mile to protect Scottish jobs and businesses.

“This new, blockbuster support is a major upgrade that shows the UK Government will take decisive action to protect Scottish jobs wherever necessary.”

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