Call for Borders Tories to Honour £70 Million Funding Pledges
SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse has called on local Conservatives, John Lamont MP and Rachael Hamilton MSP, to make the case for UK Government coronavirus funding pledges to be honoured by Boris Johnson - after the UK Government backtracked on £70 million worth of funding for business and charities in Scotland. On 2nd May, the UK Government announced a £617 million extension to business grants, which it advised would generate £60 million of funding consequentials for Scotland under the Barnett Formula. However, the UK Government informed the Scottish Government at the end of May that this additional funding would not now materialise, which will cause concern for businesses and industry in the Borders.
Furthermore, last month £35 million of consequentials was earmarked to the Scottish Government in respect of charity support direct grant, but this was amended by the Treasury to £25 million at a later date. Commenting, Mr Wheelhouse said: “While we have political differences, we have been trying to work with the UK Government on responding to this crisis and, therefore, funding commitments from the UK Government Ministers have to be taken in good faith as we work through this pandemic. However, the fact that Mr Johnson's Conservative UK Government has simply pulled the rug on £70 million of funding they had committed to Scotland completely undermines the whole process. “Most MSPs, including the Tories, have called for funds to be passed on to those needing support as quickly as possible. In that spirit, the Scottish Government committed to spending that money in the belief that the UK Government would honour its word – Tory politicians in the Borders should urgently challenge their colleagues in the UK Treasury to ensure that future funding announcements will be honoured and can be taken as being reliable enough to act upon without creating unnecessary financial risks.
“We’ve already seen the Scottish Government take action to fill gaps in UK-wide support schemes, for example through extending support to local fishing and fish processing businesses, so the last thing we need is an additional financial burden put on businesses in the Borders because of the Treasury’s shameful decision to renege on funding it has committed in the media. “The UK Government, if it wants to be trusted, must act immediately to ensure the £70 million they promised is forthcoming as quickly as possible and in its entirety, so that the Scottish Government can continue to do the vital job of protecting Borders jobs and businesses.”