More government funding for charities and public services

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The UK and Scottish Governments have announced more funding to help public services and charities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak increased the coronavirus emergency response fund on Monday, with an additional £600 million going to the Scottish Government.

The Treasury says its emergency fund has so far provided devolved administrations with almost £2 billion via the Barnett formula.

The Scottish Government also encouraged charities to apply for a share of its £50 million “wellbeing fund” under a separate scheme.

The wellbeing fund is designed to help charities working with people affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Ministers in Scotland also launched a new telephone helpline for elderly and vulnerable people who not in “shielded” groups.

Regarding the new Treasury funding, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the UK Government was willing to help services like the NHS deal with “huge challenges”.

He said: “We have been clear that we will do whatever it takes to help all corners of the UK through this crisis and this additional £600 million will go a long way in helping public services in Scotland respond to the huge challenge they are facing.

“This comes on top of the substantial coronavirus funding package for Scotland already in place, meaning that Scotland will receive a total cash boost of £3.3 billion to help tackle coronavirus.

“The coming weeks may be difficult, but we will do everything we can to save lives, protect jobs, support our public services, and back our businesses so they can thrive in the future.”

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “This additional funding is welcome and must be used by the Scottish Government to support our vital public services.

“The health service is under intense pressure and our NHS needs to be fully resourced, especially with PPE and resources for widespread testing.”

He voiced concerns about government schemes to support the economy and said it is “vitally important” these are effective.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This money – due to Scotland as a consequence of UK Government spending elsewhere – has already been allocated to support a range of important measures in the fight against the pandemic, including additional funding for NHS staffing costs and to help charities deal with consequences of Covid-19.

“We will continue to strongly press the UK Government for urgent additional funding for the health service, local government and the self-employed to adequately deal with the scale of this crisis.”

The Scottish Government’s Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said charities could apply for a share of the wellbeing fund through the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) website.

She said: “Last month, I announced a £350 million package of emergency funding for a wide range of organisations, as communities across Scotland are already adapting their services to ensure they are providing vital support to people who are worst affected by Covid-19.

“This £50 million funding will help to continue that work as well as supporting new services to get people through these difficult times.”

The Scottish Government’s helpline, on 0800 111 4000, opens on Tuesday and will initially run between 9am and 5pm.

It offers help to several vulnerable groups who do not have existing family support.

These include the over 70s, disabled people, pregnant women and those who receive a flu jab for health reasons.

Callers will receive help with essential food, medicine and emotional support through the helpline.

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