Tue, 9 March 2021

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SNP claim 'unacceptable' Tory-DUP pact has cost Scotland £3bn

SNP claim 'unacceptable' Tory-DUP pact has cost Scotland £3bn
3 min read

The SNP have lodged a formal complaint with the UK Government over the Tory-DUP pact, claiming it has deprived Scotland of nearly £3bn.

Derek Mackay, the Scottish government's finance secretary, has written to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss claiming the £1bn going to Northern Ireland under the deal should have had a knock-on effect for Holyrood.

He said that under the Barnett Formula, which distributes taxpayers' cash around the UK, any extra spending in one nation should benefit the rest of the country.

The move came a day after Theresa May finally agreed a deal which will see the DUP prop up her minority administration by backing the Conservatives in key Commons votes.

In his letter, Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government fundamentally disagrees with the way in which this additional funding for Northern Ireland has been allocated. 

“All of the areas to which this £1bn funding package has been allocated - infrastructure development, health (including mental health), education, broadband, deprivation - are devolved matters to which Barnett should apply.

“The UK Government’s argument that there should be no Barnett consequentials for Scotland and Wales (or indeed funding for England) from the financial elements of the agreement is unacceptable.”

He added: “This UK Government deal prioritises expenditure in Northern Ireland at the cost of all other parts of the UK and leaves Scotland almost £3bn worse off than it would be if funding had been allocated using the well-established arrangements.

“As this situation is of significant importance to both the Scottish and Welsh Governments, I would request that an urgent meeting be arranged to allow both myself and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government from the Welsh Government, to meet with you to discuss the full implications of the funding agreement that was announced yesterday.

“It is my hope that we will be able to reach a satisfactory resolution to this situation which results in a funding allocation across Scotland, Wales and the rest of the UK that is fair and reasonable for all.

“However, as this is an issue of such significance to the Scottish government, if we cannot agree we will look to pursue a more formal mechanism to resolve the situation by invoking the formal dispute resolution mechanism.”

UK government officials have insisted that the Barnett Formula only kicks in when there is extra spending in England, so it does not apply in this case.

First Secretary of State Damian Green, who helped broker the deal, said: “This is a good deal for the whole of Northern Ireland. Everyone from all political persuasions in Northern Ireland can benefit from this deal and the Northern Ireland Executive can decide how best to spend this money.”


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