FINANCE Secretary Kate Forbes has labelled a row over the Scottish Government holding back emergency funding for councils as "a storm in a teacup" as she was accused of attempting to "micro-manage" local authorities.

The Scottish Government is yet to pass on £155 million of funding it was handed from Westminster to local councils to help them mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today, Ms Forbes said she was "happy to confirm that we will pass on those consequentials to local government in full", but not before being given information from local authorities' umbrella group, COSLA, about where that money is needed.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: Councils told to use reserves as £155m support withheld

The Finance Secretary added that she wanted to ensure the funding is used to "support the areas of greatest need".

She added: "We would need to see figures in terms of additional pressures."

Conservative MSP, Graham Simpson said that her comments suggested "the Cabinet Secretary is wanting to decide herself how that money is allocated".

He added that the costing exercise, Ms Forbes is demanding to see first, was being drawn up before the £155 million was announced by the UK Government - claiming it has "nothing to do with the consequentials whatsoever."

Labour local government spokesperson, Sarah Boyack reminded Ms Forbes that "we are not in the middle of a normal budget run", stressing that councils need the funding now and shouldn't have to turn to their depleted reserves.

She added: "Isn't it just micro-managing?"

But Ms Forbes labelled the row a "storm in a teacup".

She added: "COSLA and local authorities should inform how that money is allocated."

Ms Boyack added: “Councils across Scotland are under unprecedented strain due to the pandemic and are delivering daily for those in need.

“For the Finance Secretary to term their call for the £155m they are entitled to a “storm in a teacup” smacks of arrogance and displays an almost wilful ignorance of the tremendous pressure councils are under.

“She did not acknowledge that telling local authorities to use their reserves while she decides how to allocate these consequentials will lead to uncertainty and will not help cash-strapped councils who have had to deal with years of SNP underfunding.

“ Scotland’s councils are no longer asking for the funding they need, they are demanding it.”

Conservatives have also blasted Ms Forbes for referring to the row as "a storm in a teacup"

Donald Cameron, Tory finance spokesperson, said: “There remains widespread dismay and indeed shock that the Scottish Government will not deliver the £155 million direct to local authorities.

“To suggest it's a "storm in a teacup" shows a massive failure of judgement."

He added: “Our local authorities are at the forefront of delivering vital services to the most vulnerable but have yet to receive any details of what this funding can be used for, and how much they will receive.

“They’ve also been told that they should use reserves to meet current costs. This is unconscionable and unacceptable.

“The Finance Secretary must come clean, when will every penny of the £155 million of additional funding go to local authorities and will the Scottish Government give them full discretion over what this money can be used for?”

COSLA has welcomed the commitment from Ms Forbes that the funding will be handed over to local authorities - but warned that councils could need more than the money to be made available.

Gail Macgregor, COSLA’s resources spokesperson, said: “Today’s announcement of the full £155 million coming to Scottish local government is a positive step in the right direction and we look forward to engaging with Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, to get this money to councils quickly.

“Scotland’s councils are doing a heroic job in keeping a huge range of essential services running to meet the needs of communities and to be responsive locally. 

"The costs to local government in dealing with this pandemic and coping with the loss of income are going to be substantial. COSLA is working closely with all councils on an ongoing basis to understand the scale of these costs and to ensure that Scottish Government recognises that this could well exceed the £155m consequentials.”