THE SCOTTISH Government has joined forces with devolved finance minsters across the UK – pleading with Westminster to hand over more flexible borrowing powers to help Britain face up to "monumental challenges" amid recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has previously called on the Chancellor to draw up £80 billion spending plans to revive the UK economy – and has also pleaded for greater borrowing powers to ensure officials in Edinburgh can better equip the country to reboot as the lockdown is eased. 

Ms Forbes initial request was “kicked into the long grass” but she has now been handed the support of her Welsh counterpart Rebecca Evans and Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy. 

The joint plea is calling for flexibility to be able to switch funding for capital infrastructure projects to be used for day-to-day spending – as well as removing limits on devolved governments’ borrowing powers. 

Ms Forbes is calling on the Chancellor to “ease these rigid fiscal rules” to help Scotland “properly address the monumental challenges” facing the economy. 

READ MORE: Kate Forbes draws up £80bn proposals to re-start UK economy and avoid austerity

She added: “The powers we are seeking will enable the Scottish Government to respond to Covid-19 more effectively and reboot our economy. 

“They are relatively limited powers but would ease some of the immense pressures on our budget and give us more tools to kickstart our recovery. 

“At the moment, any extra money spent bolstering services and supporting the economy recovery must be taken from other areas. That creates risk for our essential public services, jobs and businesses.” 

Ms Forbes party colleague, the SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, has also called on the UK Government to "step up" and offer more funding and flexibility to devolved administrations.

He said: "The Chancellor must give a cast-iron guarantee that the Tory government will devolve, not withhold, the financial powers and funds necessary to secure a strong recovery in Scotland.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes: Full fiscal autonomy would help Scotland 'respond fully' to Covid-19 crisis

"This is an unprecedented crisis and it requires an unprecedented response.  The Tory government must not put Scotland's recovery at risk.

"These powers and funds are the essential key to Scotland's recovery. Without them, the Scottish Parliament will be left tackling this unprecedented economic crisis with one hand tied behind its back - threatening budget cuts, job losses and more businesses going under."

He added: "It is crucial that the Job Retention Scheme is extended for as long as required in each of the four nations. If the UK government withdraws financial support too soon there is a very real danger that redundancies will soar and businesses will be put in jeopardy.

"Investment must also be targeted to build a fairer future.

"This is a critical moment for Scotland's economy - it is vital we have the powers and funds needed to meet the huge scale of the crisis we face. The Tory government must step up."

READ MORE: Boris Johnson accused of 'threatening Scotland's recovery' amid calls for 'laser-like' jobs focus

Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans added: “Our response to the Covid-19 crisis has been hampered by UK imposed rules that limit our ability to get more resources to the frontline. 

“There is no clear rationale for these rules, which undermine good budget management in Wales. 

“The Welsh Local Government Association, Wales TUC, FSB Cymru and Institute for Fiscal Studies and, more recently, the Senedd’s Finance Committee, have all made the same calls for change. 

“The crisis has made the issue urgent. It’s time for the UK Government to act and provide the flexibility we need to respond and invest in Wales’ recovery."