The Highlands and Islands has received a “Union boost” of £1,500 per person to fight the Covid pandemic according to Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron.
The Highlands and Islands MSP said the extra £1,500 per person in public spending this year is due to the UK Government’s record Barnett consequential spending.
Around £8.2 billion will be added to the Scottish budget in response to tackling Covid-19, protecting jobs and supporting local firms. This record spending has also contributed to health and social care help in Scotland, including public health initiatives and welfare support.
Even before the pandemic, Scotland’s block grant from the UK Government had increased by £1.6 billion compared to the previous year. This record extra public spending comes on top of UK-wide measures like Rishi Sunak’s Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and a number of UK Government backed loan schemes.
Mr Cameron said: “Quite rightly, the UK Government has been focusing on keeping people in work and businesses afloat."
“Given that the pandemic still has some way to go, the Chancellor’s commitment to extend the furloughing scheme to the end of April is very welcome as it gives local firms an assurance that Government backing is there for the long term. This unprecedented support for people and local firms underlines how vital Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom is at a time like this."
“But I would really also like to see the SNP Government get behind our businesses as well. They certainly have the resources to do a lot more to protect jobs and I hope to see some announcements soon.”
- Since the SNP Government set its budget, the UK Government has guaranteed that Scotland will receive at least £8.2 billion more to tackle COVID-19 in 2020-21. This is £8.2 billion on top of the SNP Government’s budget, approved in March 2020, that saw Scotland’s block grant rise by around £1.6 billion compared to the year before as a result of UK Government spending commitments before the pandemic began. (Scottish Government, Budget 2020-21 p.13, 6 February 2020, link; UK Government, 5 November 2020, link)
- This means that the UK Government is providing £1,501 for every man, woman and child in Scotland to tackle COVID-19 this year. This is a conservative estimate and only takes account of the £8.2 billion in guaranteed Barnett consequential funds. The latest figures show that Scotland’s population in June 2019 was 5,463,300. This figure does not take account of Scotland’s share of UK wide support schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the UK Government’s various loan schemes. (National Records of Scotland,Mid-2019 Population Estimates Scotland, 30 April 2020, link)
- Thanks to £8.2 billion in funding from the UK Government, spending on the NHS and public services has risen by billions throughout the pandemic. To date the SNP has only allocated around £3 billion of this - to health and social care, including public health initiatives and welfare support. (Written Answer, 24 November 2020, link; UK Government, 5 November 2020, link; Scottish Government, 9 December 2020, link)
- Thanks to £8.2 billion in funding from the UK Government, the SNP has had the money to cut non-domestic rates and support businesses. The SNP has funded a 100% cut in non-domestic rates for all retail, hospitality and tourism businesses by increasing funding for local government to allow for the cost of cutting rates which amounted to around £972 million. (Scottish Fiscal Commission, Fiscal Update, September 2020, p.11, link; UK Government, 5 November 2020, link)
- Thanks to £8.2 billion in funding from the UK Government, businesses have been supported through the pandemic. According to the SNP Government, a package of around £2.3 billion in business support has been available in various forms throughout the pandemic. Kate Forbes announced on 9 December that a further £570 million would be spent. This means a package of support worth around £2.8 billion funded by Barnett consequentials from the UK Government. (Official report, 9 December 2020, link; Scottish Government, 9 December 2020, link; UK Government, 5 November 2020, link)