Public Spending (North East Scotland)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd September 2020.

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Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to protect public spending in the north-east. (S5O-04556)

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government will continue to focus on delivering outcomes for all areas of Scotland through its spending plans, including for the north-east. For example, local councils in the north-east will receive more than £1.6 billion from the Scottish budget in 2020-21.

The Scottish Government is working closely with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to support local authorities in responding to the challenges of Covid-19, as I mentioned earlier, and we have committed an additional £330 million of direct support this year.

W e have responded swiftly to support businesses, including the provision of £137 million through the Covid business support fund grant for businesses in the north-east.

Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

Those measures will look like a slap in the face to the hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Aberdeen who could lose their jobs because the Scottish National Party Government failed to offer the right support for jobs and businesses during the local lockdown.

The Scottish Conservatives published a plan to protect the local economy in the north-east through the crisis. If there has to be another lockdown, what has the Government learned from us?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

We are all learning at the moment about how best to tackle the challenges of Covid-19 and in how we respond as public servants.

On the localised lockdown in Aberdeen, businesses in the city have already received £32 million of grant support from the Scottish Government, and an additional fund of £1 million for business support was announced on 19 August. That fund was and is being delivered by Aberdeen City Council to provide grants of up to £1,500 to hospitality businesses that were affected.

Importantly, we have called on the United Kingdom Government to extend the schemes that it funds—such as the job retention and eat out to help out schemes—where there are localised restrictions, as there were in Aberdeen.

I call on Peter Chapman to join us in urging the UK Government to do the sensible and appropriate thing and continue the job retention scheme around the country, and certainly to create the facility for it to be utilised in instances of lockdown, such as in Aberdeen.

Photo of Maureen Watt Maureen Watt Scottish National Party

I am still waiting for a reply on that point from Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

What funding is provided to support innovation in, and attract investment into, the north-east?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

Supporting innovation and attracting investment is vital at all times, and particularly at the moment. The Scottish Government supports innovation and investment across all of Scotland.

Particular measures in the north-east include our funding of £125 million for the Aberdeen city region deal; supporting Aberdeen’s position as a global oil and gas hub; and our creation of a new £62 million energy transition fund, to accelerate our progress in moving Scotland towards being a net zero carbon society. In addition, over the past three years, Scottish Development International has helped to secure 39 inward investment projects for Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire, creating or safeguarding more than 2,600 jobs.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you very much.

That concludes questions on the finance portfolio. I close the meeting.

Meeting closed at 15:46.