North-east politicians have written a joint letter to the Chancellor urging him to ensure the Scottish Government receives an additional £375m of funding to help support businesses.
It comes after Boris Johnson risked inflaming a constitutional row over Covid support cash by suggesting Nicola Sturgeon is delaying financial help for firms.
Mr Johnson said the first minister needed to “get on and use the funds that the UK Government is giving the people of Scotland, to support jobs in Scotland”.
Now MPs Stephen Flynn, Richard Thomson and Kirsty Blackman have penned a joint letter to the Chancellor urging him to deliver on his pledge.
The row erupted as it emerged there were two further new deaths in the north-east due to Covid, one from Aberdeen and another from Aberdeenshire.
The number of new cases in the country reported today was 2,039 with 206 of those recorded in Grampian.
And a number of staff members at Tesco in Elgin have also tested positive for the virus, the second outbreak to hit the store in recent months.
Tesco said they were following all Scottish Government guidance and had extensive measures in place to keep staff and customers safe.
The letter from politicians to the Chancellor said it was vital that the needs of businesses in the north-east were met.
It states: “As you will likely be aware, the UK Government stated that the Scottish Government would receive an additional £375million of funding to help support businesses in the coming weeks and months.
“You will similarly be aware that your Conservative colleagues in the north-east of Scotland welcomed this “extra” funding and called for it to be spent “immediately”.
“However, It has since transpired that not a single penny of the new funding will be forthcoming from the UK Government, let alone the promised £375million. This is not good enough.
“We cannot emphasise strongly enough how vital it is that you fulfil your commitment to deliver the funding necessary to meet the needs of businesses in the north-east – particularly given the unique economic challenges facing Aberdeen and the wider region.”
“Given the importance of this matter, we look forward to an early response and a firm commitment that this funding will be provided to the Scottish Government for the benefit of business.”
Aberdeen MP Stephen Flynn said businesses in the city “cannot afford to be short-changed”.
He said: “It was stated that there would be £375m of additional financial support for businesses in Scotland and the UK Government simply has to deliver on their pledge.
“Businesses in Aberdeen can’t afford to be short-changed by the Chancellor in this way and all politicians across the north-east should be united in calling for him to deliver this vital support for our city.”
MP Richard Thomson added: “We’re used to the UK Government over-promising and underdelivering for the north-east but to do so in the middle of a pandemic when businesses are facing unprecedented challenges beggars belief.”
The letter was penned after the prime minister suggested the first minister was delaying financial help for firms.
His comment came in response to a question from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who hit out at the Scottish Government for not spending “hundreds of millions of pounds” in Covid Barnett consequential.
He said: “During this pandemic, the UK Government have provided the Scottish Government with billions of additional support, but we know hundreds of millions of that remain unspent.
“These are vital funds that could help to create jobs and support businesses, so is there anything further that can be done to encourage the Scottish Government to get these monies out to Scottish businesses as quickly as possible?”
Mr Johnson said he would “encourage” Holyrood to free cash up for businesses.
The exchange comes a day after the UK Treasury wrongly announced £375 million of “additional” coronavirus business support for Scotland.
Boris Johnson has also taken a swipe at the SNP by claiming “there wouldn’t have been a single vaccine delivered” in an independent Scotland.
The prime minister is reported to have made the comment in a virtual meeting of backbench Conservative MPs on Tuesday evening.
An SNP spokesman said: “These comments are as crass as they are inaccurate and show once again how desperate the Tories are to politicise the pandemic.
“The development of vaccines has been a global effort and our focus is on ensuring we vaccinate people in Scotland as quickly and as safely as it is possible to do so.”
The Treasury announced a £4.6 billion support package for UK businesses on Tuesday morning, of which officials said £375 million would be given to Holyrood.
But it later transpired that the cash for Scotland was not new and, in fact, formed part of an £8.6 billion fund announced in previous statements.
Darren Murray, the owner of the St Machar Bar in Old Aberdeen, said that although the financial support assists the business in the short term, more needs to be done.
He said he had to keep his bar open to run a takeaway service.
He said: “Overall we still need more support. As a business, we’ve had to stay open and because two of us were on furlough the first time we weren’t able to go on it again.
“We’ve got no choice but to stay open and try and make some money to cover our wages.
“There is definitely more that could be done but at the end of the day, we will take however much money we can get.
“In the short-term, we are surviving on the money we’ve been given, but when it comes to us paying our VAT bill and our lease, it won’t go that far.”