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Scotland doesn’t have enough money for another covid lockdown, claims Forbes

Scotland doesn’t have enough money to support another coronavirus lockdown in the future, the Finance Secretary has said.

Kate Forbes said unless the UK Government agrees to fund another shutdown then the Scottish authorities would find it hard to find the cash for it.

However, the SNP minister said another lockdown across the country couldn’t be ruled out if cases continue to surge.

Forbes announced there would be no cash for furlough if the country was forced to shut down.

Speaking at Holyrood’s Finance Committee, the SNP MSP said: “One of the biggest challenges right now from a financial perspective is the fact that there hasn’t been that much additional consequential funding from the UK Government in the last few months.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes

“Right now we are trying to remobilise the health service, remobilise the justice system, remobilise a whole host of different public services, as well as deal with the ongoing covid impact from a budget that has not been supplemented by additional consequentials coming from the UK Government in the way that it was last year.

“That’s not what we’re discussing at the moment.

“We’re talking about trying to maximise the impact of the baseline measures.

“But if we were to, then we have no certainty that furlough will be in place, we have no certainty that self employed income support will be in place, and I have no certainty that there will be any additional funding in place.

“I am not sitting on funds right now that I could deploy to support businesses.

“We would need additional help from the UK Government.”

“The Scottish Government’s resources are just not sufficient to help businesses to the level that they need to be supported through furlough and self-employed income support.

“So we would need to ask the UK Government for additional help because it would require funding on a scale that we cannot provide in light of the need to balance and fix our budget.”

Scotland has seen a leap in the number of people testing positive for the virus over the course of the last week.

Out of the top 20 covid hotspots across Europe, Scotland has eight including NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde which sit in first and second position.

On the fear of another lockdown, Forbes, who is currently self-isolating after a close contact tested positive, added: “No-one wants to see a return of formal restrictions, but we cannot rule anything out as cases continue to surge.”

“I am not sitting on funds right now that I could deploy to support businesses.”

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