Covid funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland doubled

Coins and notes Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Extra funding to tackle Covid-19 across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been doubled.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the boost was to ensure people in the devolved nations were supported “in the face of this serious health crisis”.

It followed a ramping up of demands for more cash support from the three nations amid the rise in Omicron cases.

The total sum has been doubled from the recently-announced £430 million, to £860 million.

Of this, the Scottish Government is being allocated £440 million, the Welsh Government £270 million and the Northern Ireland Executive £150 million.

The Treasury said the amounts, which are in addition to the devolved nations’ autumn Budget funding, will be kept under review.

Mr Sunak said: “Following discussions with the devolved administrations, we are now doubling the additional funding available.

“We will continue to listen to and work with the devolved administrations in the face of this serious health crisis, to ensure we’re getting the booster to people all over the UK and that people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported.”

The announcement came after Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the UK Government’s initial offer of £220 million to help in the fight against the coronavirus had left the country millions of pounds worse off.

Following a Cobra meeting on Wednesday, Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, wrote to Mr Sunak urging him to take more action to help deal with the impact of the Omicron variant, and described the £220 million sum as “entirely inadequate”.

Responding to the latest funding announcement on Sunday, Ms Sturgeon tweeted to warn against “spin on ‘doubling’” and insisted they “still need much more urgency” in action and support from Westminster so that devolved governments’ hands are “not tied”.

She also described it as “disappointing and frustrating” that neither Boris Johnson or Mr Sunak had attended the Cobra meeting with the devolved nations on Sunday evening.

The meeting, chaired by Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay, included discussion of “potential workforce disruption arising from the Omicron variant, and plans to prepare for that”, a Cabinet Office spokesman said.

Describing it as having been a “constructive” meeting, the spokesman added: “They agreed to continue to monitor the emerging data over the coming days, working closely with businesses and public agencies across the UK to understand the impact on industry and services.”