A row has broken out between the Scottish Government and the UK Government over funding that Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday as it appears that Scottish businesses are NOT set to get additional lockdown cash.
Kate Forbes, Scotland’s Finance Secretary has refuted the Chancellors claim that Scotland is to get an extra £375m for Scottish businesses to help them survive the new lockdown.
The Chancellor’s funding announcement revealed an extra £4bn worth of support for businesses, and it was implied that the Scottish Government would receive an extra £375 million; the Welsh Government £227 million and the Northern Ireland Executive £127 million.
However said the Scottish Finance Secretary in a statement, ” “We are both surprised and disappointed that the UK Government’s announcement of additional funding for businesses in England will not – despite the initial indications – generate further new funding for the Scottish Government or other devolved administrations.
“This is a blow to Scottish businesses whose expectations had been raised by the announcement, and I will be writing to the Chancellor to raise the issue.”
However, the official UK Government press release stated, “Business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, which will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements in the usual manner.”
“This will contribute to the funding which has already been guaranteed by the UK Government, to continue to provide the devolved administrations the certainty they need to plan for their COVID-19 response in the months ahead.”
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group said, “It is absolutely essential that we get clarity on this at the earliest opportunity. At a time where hospitality has already been deprived of the Christmas and New Year trade, this is not a time to be playing party politics, but it is a time where grants already agreed, even as far back as October, are got out to the businesses without any further delay. “
Meanwhile, in England hospitality, retail and leisure businesses will benefit from a one-off grant worth up to £9K on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions. The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows: £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under; £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000; £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000 and any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the Spring. This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”
It appears that Scottish business organisations also believed the Chancellors announcement regarded new funding from the UK Government with Andrew McRae, Scotland policy chair for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), saying, “This new cash injection could help a share of Scottish firms survive until the vaccine is rolled out. The Scottish Government must ensure this new funding reaches businesses before the end of January.
“The new £375m should be split between cash grants for smaller property based firms, and extra help for non-premises based operators that have had little or no help so far. But before any of this can happen, councils and government need to break the administrative logjam preventing money reaching businesses.
“Independent firms and the self-employed continue to make huge sacrifices. These operators can’t be left high and dry because of poor government systems.”