A future Scottish economy should be high tech and low carbon.
Announced yesterday by Kate Forbes Finance Secretary in the Scottish Government a review group has been set up to work towards that end. The group is to be headed by Professor Mark Logan, School of Computing Science at Glasgow University. It will make recommendations on how Scotland’s thriving tech industry can help with economic recovery.
Opposition MSPs continued to question the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes in the Scottish Parliament about £155million allocated to local authorities via the Barnett Consequentials . These are monies which come back from Scottish tax payers which are firstly paid into the UK Treasury.
The £155million allocated to local authorities from Barnett is as a result of the UK Government allocating funding to local councils in England. The funds were to be used for social care and homelessness.
Kate Forbes started by restating that the Scottish Government was committed to passing on:
“all health and social care consequentials, which are currently estimated at £620 million, including those for hospices, to support our front-line services.”
She then listed funding which has been allocated from the Scottish Government so far which included:
- £350 million package to support welfare and wellbeing
an extra £175 million for local government
underwritten integration authorities’ costs
- £320 million to a package of small business grants and sector-targeted rates reliefs
expanded to a £2.3 billion business support package
£1.3 billion in grants for small businesses and for retail, leisure and hospitality
added a £100 million fund to support the newly self-employed and small and medium-sized enterprises
Kate Forbes advised the MSPs that over £526 million of grants had been paid out to businesses in a scheme being managed by local authorities on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Money allocated to Local Authorities by the Scottish Government included £10million for the Hardship Fund. There has been an increase of £22million for the Scottish Welfare Fund, £30million for the Food Fund and over 160,000 free school meals.
Also listed was funding for charities, community groups and Third Sector organisations working in our local areas.
And on the £155million allocated through Barnett Consequentials Kate Forbes said:
“The Scottish Government had already committed £175.6 million to local government before we had an indication that the UK Government would provide us with additional consequentials for local government, and in the past week or so, we have received an indication of £155 million of consequentials from local government spending in England.
“That money will be available to local government in full, but in order to make decisions on how it should be distributed among councils to top up the original £175.6 million, I need details from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the funding pressures that its members are facing so that the money can be spent fairly on the areas of greatest need.”
The Scottish Government, she said, were constrained by devolution which cannot borrow to fund the Covid-19 response.
Kate Forbes said:
“It is one of the remarkable aspects of the fiscal framework that Scotland’s national Government cannot borrow in the way that Scottish local governments can.”
Kate Forbes was quizzed as to why Local Authorities had not yet received the £155million . She repeated that the money would go to Local Authorities but that would be done once it had been determined, working with COSLA, which areas they need to be prioritised.
After the debate Labour’s local government spokesperson, Sarah Boyak said:
“Councils across Scotland are under unprecedented strain due to the pandemic and are delivering daily for those in need.
“For the Finance Secretary to term their call for the £155m they are entitled to a “storm in a teacup” smacks of arrogance and displays an almost wilful ignorance of the tremendous pressure councils are under.
“She did not acknowledge that telling local authorities to use their reserves while she decides how to allocate these consequentials will lead to uncertainty and will not help cash-strapped councils who have had to deal with years of SNP underfunding.
“ Scotland’s Councils are no longer asking for the funding they need, they are demanding it.”
You can watch the Ministerial Statement and MSPs’ reactions here: