Fact check: the UK government’s “additional” business support

After the recent lockdown announcement, the Scottish Tories were quick to trumpet about supposedly additional funding of “extra” £375 million in business support from the UK government.

Their claim, however, is false.

Scottish Government analysis has revealed that the £375 million is part of the cash that the UK government has already guaranteed to devolved governments.

What was branded as “new funding” turned out to be the same, re-heated money that was announced before – most of which has already been budgeted and allocated by the Scottish Government to support businesses through the pandemic.

A UK government press release on Tuesday morning said the funding would be “on top of the increased funding which has already been guaranteed by the UK Government.

However, just a few hours later, a post on the UK government website said it would “contribute to the funding which has already been guaranteed by the UK government.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “This is a blow to Scottish businesses, whose expectations had been raised by the announcement, and I will be writing to the Chancellor to raise the issue.

Inaccurate and deceiving claims are not the only issue with the UK government’s support package.

While any business support is obviously welcome, the UK government is still leaving millions of people across the UK without a penny in fiscal support – with millions more struggling to make ends meet after a decade of Tory austerity.

The SNP’s Westminster Shadow Chancellor, Alison Thewliss, called on the UK government to step up and fix the gaps in support – including making the £20 uplift of Universal Credit permanent, extending furlough for as long as it’s needed, and ensuring that the three million excluded and freelancer workers are no longer left behind.

Rishi Sunak must also urgently raise statutory sick pay, as the UK’s level of statutory sick pay continues to languish at the bottom of the European league table and is currently the lowest in the OECD for those impacted by COVID.

The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to support businesses through COVID and is providing sector-specific support over and above the basic support package available through the Strategic Framework Business Fund.

Read more about the Scottish Government’s support here and find out about what specific support packages are available to protect jobs and keep Scottish businesses afloat.