John Swinney has called for urgent clarity from the UK Treasury over the extension of the furlough wage scheme during lockdown.
The deputy First Minister said crucial details were missing when Boris Johnson announced the continuation of 80 per cent wage support for another month during national lockdown for England.
The Scottish government wants to know if a devolved government deems it necessary to have tougher restrictions for longer periods that furlough payments will be available.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross joined calls for an “immediate guarantee” from the Treasury that furlough payments would be made available if the Scottish government decides on further nationwide lockdowns.
Swinney said details on how the scheme could apply were needed to help covid planning.
He said: “We need urgent clarity from the Treasury about the circumstances in which funding will be available and crucially, whether it’s going to be available to all nations of the United Kingdom when we’re required to use it, rather than just when England has a particular problem.”
Swinney said: “If furlough is to be available to any government within the United Kingdom at any point where restrictions need to be applied that gives us flexibility should our level system need to be intensified in the weeks to come to apply furlough payments in that context.”
The Deputy First Minister told the BBC: “Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were asking the UK Government for an extension to furlough several weeks ago and we were told a very firm ‘no’. So we need that urgent clarity, because it really matters and sustaining sectors of the economy that face real difficulty and real challenges as a consequence of the implications of coronavirus restrictions.”
Talks between the Scottish government and the Treasury were expected to take place on Sunday. The UK Treasury confirmed that furlough is extended UK wide for one month and that devolved governments will receive extra Barnett funding for business support.
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, called for the UK Government to commit to restarting furlough if a Scottish national lockdown becomes necessary.
Ross said: “The furlough scheme has not just been a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Scottish people who would have otherwise lost their jobs, it is also a real and tangible reminder of the economic security of the Union.
He added: “Now that the scheme has been extended to cover the impact of a second lockdown in England, how could a Unionist government not restart the scheme if a second lockdown is required in Scotland?
“We all hope that by following the guidance and doing the right thing, a second Scottish lockdown will not be necessary. But if it is, the UK Government must treat Scotland the same way as England. That guarantee has to be made immediately.”
-- to www.dailyrecord.co.uk