Nicola Sturgeon accused of £580m underspend in Covid recovery fund

Nicola Sturgeon slammed for 'underspend' on coronavirus funding

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Political commentator James Bundy sat down with BBC Scotland’s Seven Days to discuss coronavirus Government funding. Mr Bundy criticised First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for withholding money from businesses and people in need of financial support during the pandemic. Audit Scotland an independent body for auditing most of Scotlands public organisations, released new data which showed failings to investigate complaints and included a lack of transparency over where government funds were being spent. Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in recent weeks demanding for more money to help implement Covid restrictions in Scotland.

Mr Bundy said: “We just need to look at the Audit Scotland report that came out this week.

“Which said there has been a £580million underspend by the Scottish government on money already received for Covid.

“So rather than play constitutional politics Nicola Sturgeon and her government can use that money.”

Presenter Nick Sheridan said: “Why do they say we don’t have the money? Why would they be saying this week, we don’t have the money we need more? What’s the thinking behind that then?”

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Mr Bundy said: “I think that’s constitutional politics before businesses and before jobs and that is shameful.

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“It is not correct to say that there’s money coming from a future Scottish Government budget.”

Cabinet Secretary for Finance Katie Forbes rebuked Audit Scotlands latest report which claimed that a substantial part of the budget was not being spent on Holyrood.

Ms Forbes took to Twitter to explain, Ms Forbes said: “On resource, it was well documented last year that very late consequential in the last few months of the year would have to be carried forward to ensure we spent money wisely. Vaccinations don’t stop at the end of the financial year; you’ve got to budget for the full initiative.

Ms Forbes added: “On capital, lockdown had a big impact on infrastructure projects so there was slippage across the UK on capital. The projects will be completed but many required funding this financial year rather than last financial year.

“Contrary to Tories ridiculous claims, the economy budget was overspent – i.e. we spent more on business than money we’d been given by the UK Government.”

He added that such opposition claims “are trying to distract from the fact that two weeks into businesses struggling with Omicron, UK Government has chosen to ignore business cries for help.”

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