New report outlines the challenges Scotland faced.
The Scottish Government worked collaboratively with local authorities and other key partners to direct significant public spending in unprecedented circumstances, according to a new Audit Scotland report.
Evaluating the financial response to the Covid-19 pandemic – which saw the Scottish Government allocate £15.5 billion between 2020-2022 – the report highlights the significant challenges faced across the country.
The report acknowledges that despite these extraordinary difficulties:
- existing Scottish Government systems were utilised efficiently to help deliver financial support as quickly as possible, whilst developing new, streamlined processes that minimised the risk of fraud
- the Scottish Government maintained a balanced budget
- short notice UK Government funding was directed quickly by the Scottish Government to tackle the wide ranging impacts of the pandemic
- over £5 billion was allocated for health and social care to support vital services and public health infrastructure for testing and vaccinations programmes
- more than £4.7 billion was allocated to businesses in lifeline support
- local authorities were allocated £1.8 billion to fund vital general and targeted services, including £200 million to cover councils’ lost income
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges on a scale our economy and people have never faced in living memory. At every stage, the Scottish Government worked to safeguard lives, businesses, jobs and livelihoods, acting as quickly and efficiently as possible to support people and businesses.
“Despite the impacts of the pandemic, many of which are still being acutely felt, we worked collaboratively with all sectors of the economy to identify those most in need and then with local authorities and partners to utilise existing systems to ensure financial support was delivered swiftly and effectively.
“We also set up a number of new support streams, to make sure businesses were being paid as quickly as possible. My thanks go to all of our partners who worked with us to deliver support at pace.
“It is important to remember the severity of the pandemic and that decisions were taken at pace as we considered how best to allocate funding to support business and people through the necessary public health restrictions.
“We will now carefully consider 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.”