Nicola Sturgeon slams 'intolerable' Covid-19 support for England only

22 October 2020, 19:46 | Updated: 22 October 2020, 19:48

Scottish Firmer Minister Nicola Sturgeon has slammed the UK Government for failing to provide extra support
Scottish Firmer Minister Nicola Sturgeon has slammed the UK Government for failing to provide extra support. Picture: PA Images

Nicola Sturgeon has slammed an "intolerable and unacceptable" decision by the UK Government to exclude Scotland from extra coronavirus support announced on Thursday.

Nicola Sturgeon said a support package for businesses and the self-employed "won't deliver any upfront extra cash for Scotland" beyond £700 million of funding that has already been pledged.

On Thursday Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced billions of pounds of extra help for firms and workers affected by Covid-19 restrictions under England's three-tier system.

Scottish Tories hailed the "blockbuster support" from the UK Government, but many Scottish Nationalist MPs have been left angered by the move.

Read more: Covid-19 hospital admissions 'towards 1,000 people a day', Sir Patrick Vallance says

The First Minister hit out on Twitter, saying: "Businesses in England have been given, rightly, an open ended commitment to support for as long as needed.

"And @scotgov will be expected to match that for Scottish businesses - with no confirmation that the money will be there to pay for it (& no borrowing powers to raise it)".

Her comments came after Mr Sunak announced that the Job Support Scheme, a replacement for the furlough scheme which is due to end this month, will be made more generous, with less expected from employers and fewer hours needed to be worked by staff.

Grants of up to £2,100 have also been announced for businesses currently or previously in the second tier of the Covid alert system.

Read more: Covid-19 hospital admissions 'towards 1,000 people a day', Sir Patrick Vallance says

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes also hit out, saying: "The Chancellor has written a blank cheque for business support grants in England, but is refusing to do the same for Scotland."

She too described the situation as "unacceptable and unsustainable", before claiming that the Scottish Government was "being kept in the dark on future funding and denied the ability to borrow if we need to".

Ms Forbes urged the Mr Sunak to provide more funding for Scotland: "It is utterly wrong for Scottish business to not have the same level of certainty on financial support that is available to businesses in England.

"The Chancellor must urgently commit to providing the Scottish Government with the funding we require to support Scottish businesses thorough this pandemic."

Read more: Boris Johnson admits 'frustrations' over Test and Trace after LBC question

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said: "Throughout this pandemic, whenever jobs are on the line and businesses are struggling, Rishi Sunak has delivered.

"With this latest increase in financial support, he has gone the extra mile to protect Scottish jobs and businesses.

"This new, blockbuster support is a major upgrade that shows the UK Government will take decisive action to protect Scottish jobs wherever necessary."