FINANCE Secretary Kate Forbes has rolled back on promises to spend “every penny” of coronavirus funding on tackling effects of the pandemic.
According to a new report, the finance minister is now planning to keep up to £330m of the funds allocated for coronavirus for Brexit-related needs.
Last month Ms Forbes told a committee of MSPs that “when it comes to the budget, it is not about holding things back but about budgeting for the forecast pressures.”
She said: “Every penny will be allocated on Covid spend, but it is not the case that any money will be sitting aside unused—it will be allocated to an anticipated need.”
According to a report by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE), the comments are “at odds” with later statements made by the finance minister.
The SPICE report states: “While the Barnetts to which these funds relate derive from UK Government’s coronavirus response package, the Cabinet Secretary also said that she was keeping open the option of using some of the remaining £330 million to support any additional funding requirements that might arise as a result of the end of the EU transition period.
“This would seem at odds with previous commitments made by the Cabinet Secretary to allocate all of the COVID-19 Barnett consequentials to COVID-19 spending in Scotland.”
It comes after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said earlier this week the Scottish Government must explain what it has spent the funds it was given to manage the Brexit transition period on.
And previously SNP MPs have called for the UK Government to provide more than £1.1bn in extra cash for Brexit contingency, following the announcement that Northern Ireland would receive £440m extra to help its businesses cope with the new rules.
Northern Ireland, unlike Scotland, will have to manage two sets of regulations as it will retain access to the EU single market and the UK market, with more stringent checks on goods flowing through the country to and from the EU.
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said the decision was a political…