Finance secretary Kate Forbes calls for UK budget to protect Scottish finances

Kate Forbes

The UK Budget must provide adequate funding for Scotland and respect the devolution settlement, finance secretary Kate Forbes has said.

The Scottish Government has committed to continuing business support during the next phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – including extending non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses – provided the UK Budget delivers the funding required.

Speaking ahead of the UK Budget, Ms Forbes said: “The Chancellor must not turn this into a budget that centralises resources and decision-making at Westminster. We are still in the throes of a national emergency and it is vital we receive the funds needed to continue to support Scottish businesses and livelihoods.

“The Scottish Government has acted decisively to provide our economy with stability and certainly whenever possible. As well as extending non-domestic rates relief by 12 months for the sectors worst hit by pandemic we have an ongoing commitment to provide COVID-19 grants to businesses as lockdown measures begin ease. This lifeline support is contingent on the receipt of additional consequential funding from today’s budget.”

She added: “It is therefore more important than ever that the Chancellor today respects the devolution settlement and allows the Scottish Government to effectively develop its ongoing response to the pandemic. The idea that Scottish Government funding could be cut to pay for centralised UK Government policies such as the Shared Prosperity Fund, the Levelling Up Fund or a National Infrastructure Bank is unacceptable.

“I urge the Chancellor to instead use this opportunity to confirm Scotland’s share of unallocated coronavirus funding, ensure the NHS receives what it needs, extend the furlough scheme, make the £20 uplift for Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits permanent and support business and households by providing meaningful and effective long-term support.”

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