The Scottish Government have been criticised for failing to pass on nearly £3m received from the UK Government following the recent Storms that hit the UK.
In response to a Scottish Parliament Written Question from Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray, the Finance Secretary John Swinney revealed that the Scottish Government had already received £3.94m extra from the UK Government following Storm Desmond and they would receive a further £14.578m of funding arising from Storm Eva and Storm Frank- taking the total to £18.518m.
The funding was made available under the Barnett Formula which means the Scottish Government receives a share of any money allocated by the UK Government in England and Wales for expenditure in areas that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
However, the Scottish Government recently announced they had allocated just £15.74m from the £18.518m of extra cash to deal with the recent floods in Scotland- and the funding money would be withheld from councils until the end of March.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said, “The Scottish Government recently tried to take credit for providing funding to deal with the recent storms, when in fact they were simply passing on some of the extra funding they had received from the UK Government. But what really angers me is the fact that not only are the Scottish Government withholding this funding from councils until March and therefore making council’s pick up the bill until then, my Parliamentary questions have exposed the fact they are failing to pass on all the extra funding they are receiving from the UK Government”.
“The UK Government is providing an extra £18.5m but to date the Scottish Government has only promised to pass on £15.7 million. We know that this funding doesn’t scratch the surface of the extra costs being faced by local councils in dealing with the clean up and extra grants they have to administer. As the region continues to be battered by storms these costs are rising, so why is the Scottish Government failing to pay up all the money?”
To date Dumfries and Galloway Council has been promised £1.7m of funding from the Scottish Government. However, a report to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee in January revealed that the clean-up costs from the recent storms had already reached £2m and was rising. Since then the Council has engaged with 205 businesses affected by the storms. 185 were eligible for £1500 grants which have been paid out costing £277,500. In addition, within 48 hours of the Scottish Government confirming the criteria for £3000 grants, the council paid out grants of £3000 to 10 businesses. The cost of repairing infrastructure affected by the storm is also increasing as more and more is inspected for damage.
Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee Councillor Colin Smyth said, “It is pretty clear that the £1.7 m promised by the Scottish Government is going to be far short of what will be needed to deal with the recent storms. Since Strom Desmond and Frank, we have been hit by more storms which have badly damaged roads across the region. It’s therefore really frustrating that the Scottish Government are not passing on the full amount of extra funding they have received from the UK Government. It will mean either vital repairs to roads and bridges won’t be carried out or it will have to come out of existing council budgets and that means even more cuts in other services. At a time we are already facing £21.1m of council cuts during the next financial year that will be very difficult to find”.
The Scottish Government has also come under fire for delaying setting out criteria on how some of the extra funding should be allocated. Although the Scottish Government announced £12 m of funding on 9 January, which included provision for grants of £3,000 for the businesses most affected by the recent floods, they failed to publish criteria until the end of January. The £12m also included £1m towards a Flood bank restoration scheme for the agricultural industry. However, it took until today (1 February) before the Scottish Government published criteria on how the scheme will be administered and how those eligible can claim.
Councillor Colin Smyth added, “Dumfries and Galloway Council were the first council in Scotland to pay out grants of £1,500 to businesses affected by the recent storms and are now working with the businesses most affected to ensure they can access grants of up to £3,000. However, it disappointing that it took three weeks for the Scottish Government to publish the criteria for the larger grants and nearly a month before they announced how they plan to allocate the £1m Flood bank restoration scheme. This could be worth up to £20,000 for businesses affected, so it is shocking that the Scottish Government are only now administering applications.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
1. Details of the Scottish Parliamentary Question S4W-29243 answered on 20 January 2016
Elaine Murray: To ask the Scottish Government whether it has received the Barnett consequentials arising from the flood relief funding announced by the UK Government for damage caused by Storm (a) Desmond, (b) Eva and (c) Frank and, if so, how much it has received and when.
John Swinney: The Scottish Government received confirmation of Barnett resource consequentials of £3.94m in respect of the flood relief funding for damage caused by Storm Desmond on 9 December 2015. Notification of consequentials arising from storms Eva and Frank was received from HM Treasury on 18 January 2016 indicating that the Scottish Government will receive £14.578m of resource in 2015-16.
2. Scottish Government financial help for communities hit by flooding
On 9th January the Scottish Government announced funding of over £12 million to support communities affected by flooding in addition to £3.94m announced as part of the Scottish Government’s budget in December.
3. Report to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday 12 January on the impact of the recent flooding- Item 14
4. Detailed information on all the support available for those affected by the recent flooding can be found here