Clarity is needed “urgently” on further extension of the furlough scheme if a second lockdown becomes necessary in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister spoke after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick appeared to contradict comments made earlier by the Prime Minister.
Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday morning, Mr Jenrick was asked what would happen with the scheme if Scotland went into lockdown beyond December 2.
He said: “That’s a decision the Chancellor will have to make at the time.”
The Prime Minister previously said the scheme is “available” to parts of the UK if they implement measures which require it.
Responding to Mr Jenrick’s comment, the First Minister said: “We need clarity on this urgently today. I’m sorry to say that @scotgov has no more detail now than we did before PM statement yesterday. Woolly words don’t pay people’s wages.”
Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes also said she had written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the matter.
On the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “I see this morning that another Cabinet minister appears to have walked back on the Prime Minister’s commitment that furlough will be available to Scottish businesses.”
She added: “The problem is that this has been a theatrical shambles from the beginning, they could have given us an answer on Saturday night, when Scottish businesses were worried about what it would mean for them.
“They’ve dragged it out for two, now three days, with so many twists and turns, appeared to give answers and then appeared to walk back on them.”
In his reply to a question from Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross on Monday, the Prime Minister said: “The furlough is a UK-wide scheme.
“If other parts of the UK decide to go into measures which require the furlough scheme then of course it’s available to them, that has to be right and that applies not just now but of course in the future as well.”
Mr Ross later said this was a welcome commitment from Mr Johnson.
He said: “The Scottish Conservatives argued strongly that this cast-iron guarantee was an absolute must and it’s great news that it has been given.
“We now know that Scottish jobs will be protected by the UK Government furlough scheme, as they have throughout this pandemic, in the event of a second lockdown.
“The Prime Minister has made that clear guarantee and it’s very positive news for those Scottish jobs that might be under threat in the event of another lockdown.”