Audit Scotland highlights pace of Covid-19 financial support

A new report outlines the challenges Scotland has faced.

The Scottish Government has worked together with local authorities and other key partners to guide significant public spending in unprecedented circumstances, according to a new report from Audit Scotland.

Assessing the financial response to the Covid-19 pandemic – which has seen the Scottish government allocate £15.5billion between 2020 and 2022 – the report highlights the significant challenges facing the country.

The report recognizes that despite these extraordinary challenges:

  • existing Scottish Government systems have been used effectively to help deliver financial support as quickly as possible, while developing new, streamlined processes that minimize the risk of fraud
  • the Scottish government has maintained a balanced budget
  • Short-notice UK government funding was quickly directed by the Scottish government to deal with the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic
  • more than £5billion has been allocated to health and social care to support vital services and public health infrastructure for testing and vaccination programs
  • more than £4.7billion has been allocated to businesses as part of the life support
  • local authorities have been given £1.8bn to fund vital general and targeted services, including £200m to cover lost council income

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges on a scale that our economy and people have never faced in living memory. At every stage, the Scottish Government has worked to protect lives, businesses, jobs and livelihoods, acting as quickly and effectively as possible to support people and businesses.

“Despite the impacts of the pandemic, many of which are still sorely felt, we have worked with all sectors of the economy to identify those most in need, then with local authorities and partners to use the existing systems to ensure financial support was provided quickly and efficiently.

“We also introduced a number of new support streams, to ensure businesses were paid as quickly as possible. My thanks go to all of our partners who have worked with us to provide prompt support.

“It is important to remember the severity of the pandemic and that decisions were made quickly as we considered how best to allocate funds to support businesses and people through necessary public health restrictions.

“We will now carefully review the Audit Scotland report and engage with relevant sectors to ensure that future decision-making is as informed as possible and best supports the people of Scotland.”

Background

The Audit Scotland report can be read online.

Management information and business support statistics were regularly published on the Scottish Government website.

The Scottish Government has allocated £15.5bn in 2020-21 and 2021-22, more than the £14.4bn received in consecutive funding from the UK Government.

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