express– Ahead of a visit to Scotland, the Chancellor hailed Scotland’s “innovation and ingenuity” as part of the United Kingdom. During the visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Chancellor will highlight the “plan for jobs” scheme, which he said has supported one in three jobs in Scotland and tens of thousands of Scottish businesses.
But the SNP claim the Chancellor should apologise for plunging Scotland into economic uncertainty.
Mr Sunak said today: “We’ve come through this pandemic as one United Kingdom – with our Plan for Jobs supporting one in three jobs and tens of thousands of businesses across Scotland.
“Thanks to the strength of our Union we’ve deployed the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe and our economy is rebounding faster than expected.
“It’s vital this continues, and Scotland’s innovation and ingenuity will be key in creating jobs, powering our growth and driving a green recovery.”
It comes after SNP ministers demanded further financial flexibility in its funding arrangement with the UK Government and an extension of the furlough scheme which finishes in September.
From July 1, employers had to pick up 10 percent of their furloughed workers’ salaries, with the Government paying 70 percent, while in August and September, the Government will pay 60 percent and employers will pay 20 percent.
Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s Shadow Chancellor at Westminster called for Mr Sunak to apologise for “prematurely withdrawing furlough and risking thousands of unnecessary redundancies”.
Ms Thewliss also claimed Mr Sunak was “short-changing” Scotland and going ahead with Universal Credit cuts of £20 that will “plunge half a million people into poverty”.
The Glasgow Central MP also recalled the party’s demand for a second referendum and added: “As for his boasts about the supposed strength of the UK, the reality is that the UK is the poorest country per head amongst its neighbours in North-west Europe, with countries similar in size or smaller than Scotland being the fairest and most prosperous.
“It is increasingly clear that the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory austerity is to become an independent country with the full powers needed to protect jobs and secure a strong, fair and progressive recovery.”
The UK Government argued Scotland will “continue to play a vital role in our United Kingdom as we build back better from the pandemic.”
A source added: “Telling the Chancellor to apologise is completely unacceptable when all the SNP obsess about is an independent Scotland which won’t be affordable.
“It’s only through the strength of the Union that Scotland will continue to thrive and recover efficiently from the pandemic.
“Now is not the time for a second divisive independence referendum, it’s reckless and divisive.”
The Treasury says they provide the Scottish Government with up to £450m per year for capital spending and up to £300m per year to manage day-to-day spending along with £14.5bn since the start of the pandemic.
Ministers also say the Scottish Government’s Barnett-based funding per person is almost 30 percent higher than comparable spending in England.
Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservative Covid Recovery spokesperson, added: “The UK Government have stepped up at every turn during the pandemic to protect vital jobs and livelihoods in Scotland.
“The crisis has shown the benefits of pulling our resources together across the United Kingdom.
“It was the furlough scheme that protected jobs at the height of the pandemic and now it is the UK Government’s successful vaccination programme that is helping us get back to normality.
“As we look to rebuild our communities, it is imperative that the SNP Government use the billions in funding they have from the UK Government as quickly as possible.
“They have been too slow to get funding out the door too often during the pandemic and failed to listen to their concerns.
“There are really no excuses for the SNP Government not to accelerate Scotland’s recovery right now, alongside the rest of the United Kingdom.”