Unite Scotland says ‘lives at risk’ as additional £155m Covid-19 funds for local authorities still not released

Unite Scotland has today (30 May) strongly criticised the Scottish government over the continued delay in releasing the additional Covid-19 emergency finance to local authorities stating that ‘lives are being put at risk’.

The finance secretary Kate Forbes in the Scottish parliament on 5 May said that costed plans must be submitted in advance before the funds are released, unlike in England where the finance has been non ring-fenced. In response, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) issued a statement placing the estimated impact at £250 million. However, to date, Scottish local authorities have still not received the cash despite this cost estimate.

The UK government made £1.6 billion of funding available to councils in England on 18 April, which amounted to an additional £155 million flowing from Barnett formula consequentials. This was an extra £1.6 billion taking the total given to local authorities in England to over £3.2 billion, which was the equivalent to £310 million for Scotland.

Unite regional officer Wendy Dunsmore said: “The Scottish government is behaving disgracefully due to the refusal to release the emergency Covid-19 funds that have been allocated by Westminster. It’s absolutely staggering that instead of the sums being passed on immediately as in England, local authorities in Scotland are continuing to face obstacles six weeks down the line. There’s absolutely no excuses for this unacceptable situation when lives are at risk and this money could be immediately assisting vulnerable people, and communities.”

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