Call for release of £21bn UK COVID-19 reserves

Wednesday January 13th, 2021

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is urging the UK Government to release £21.3 billion of reserves to help tackle the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

She has written to the Chancellor asking that the Scottish Government be given its share of the funds now. This would total around £1.7 billion if the whole amount was allocated to devolved spending areas.

The COVID-19 reserve was announced as part of the UK Spending Review in November and is intended for allocation in 2021-2022. The Scottish Government requires a guarantee of how much it will receive in order to effectively plan and allocate funds.

Ms Forbes said:

“We welcome the £8.6 billion received so far in COVID-19 consequentials. Virtually all of this has already been allocated and is being spent supporting our businesses, NHS, public services and the rollout of vaccines.

“However, demand continues to outstrip the resources available and our inability to borrow on the financial markets, or even use unspent capital funding to address immediate needs, leaves us reliant on the UK Government.

“The new strain of the virus and subsequent tightening of restrictions mean that further funding is required now. I urge the UK Government to release our share of these reserves so we can provide the maximum support to businesses and the health service during this critical period.

“The Chancellor must also provide urgent clarity on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – which is intended to replace EU structural funds – and the Levelling Up Fund ahead of the Scottish Budget on 28 January to allow us to plan effectively.”

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