Finance Ministers in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland hit out at covid cash ‘uncertainty’

Finance Ministers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have hit out at “uncertainty” surrounding extra coronavirus cash being made available by the UK Treasury.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 7:02 pm
Finance minister Conor Murphy

All three are calling on the Treasury to guarantee that money allocated to support Covid responses will be provided in full, following a meeting with Simon Clarke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on Wednesday.

Last month, as a result of spending in England, the Treasury announced it would provide additional funding to tackle Covid, with the Scottish Government allocated £440m, the Welsh Government £270m, and the Northern Ireland Executive allocated £150m.

But, following Wednesday’s meeting, the devolved governments say they are concerned they may not be granted permission to carry over into next year’s budgets any late consequential payments — something that was provided for in the 2021/22 budgets.

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The three ministers are also calling on the Treasury to provide more support to households facing a cost of living crisis, amid high inflation.

The Northern Ireland minister, Conor Murphy, said: “As we continue to deal with the challenges posed by Omicron the uncertainty surrounding the Covid funding provided by Treasury is unhelpful. It is also hugely concerning that Treasury may not permit funding to be carried into next year even if additional funding is confirmed at such a late stage that it prevents it being used most effectively.

“We have been calling on Treasury to reinstate the Self Employed Income Support Scheme and furlough scheme on a targeted basis where necessary. It is disappointing that Treasury is unwilling to provide support to workers and their families.”

He added: “I’ve been calling on Treasury to suspend VAT on energy bills temporarily to provide reprieve during the difficult winter period.”