A LEADING economist has said the claim by Kate Forbes that Holyrood will only receive £21m from Westminster is "not true".

David Phillips, associate director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) told the Herald that the finance secretary's figures did not add up, however a lack of transparency from Westminster makes it difficult to determine the true amount of new money the Scottish Government will receive.

A row has erupted after SNP MSP Kate Forbes last night tweeted that her government would only be receiving £21m of the £30bn announced in grants and schemes by Rishi Sunak yesterday. 

The claim was repeated by Ms Forbes during a radio interview this morning, which has been dismissed by the Tories.

The Conservatives say Scotland is to receive £800m in additional funding and will also benefit from UK-wide schemes such as the furlough jobs return payments, eat out to help out meal discounts and others announced by the Chancellor.  

When asked about Ms Forbes’s claim, Mr Phillips said: “That is not true.”

He explained: “Firstly, it’s not clear to me where she has got that number from because looking at the announcements made, a number of them are England-only which would lead to Barnett consequentials.

“The policies for careers advice, traineeships, school and college leavers, for example, are England-only and Barnett consequentials for those alone look like they would be significantly more than £21m.

“The green homes grant is £2bn, and that’s England-only, which would give Scotland about £200m. Stamp duty is England and Northern Ireland, so the funds going to Scotland for that are probably worth about £100m-ish…

“The £21m must be from a very narrow definition of things that were announced yesterday that hadn’t been announced or trailed before the speech, as I can’t see where that figure has come from.”

Mr Phillips said the confusion and political rows have not been helped by Westminster’s failure to publish an annual report on block grant funding, which previously showed exactly how much devolved administrations were receiving.

He said: “The bottom line is that it is actually very hard to get to the bottom of what is new and what isn't new money at the moment, because the Treasury has not published the block grant transparency report. That report set out how much Scotland was going to get through the block grant, all the Barnett consequentials, so it could be worked out.

"They have not published one since 2018, and haven't published one covering the measures for Covid-19. Not having that one document which sets it all out means you can't see clearly and you have to pull out information from all sorts of reports. It is very difficult to see what is new and what is re-stated.

"The Treasury should be more transparent about this, which could help avoid these kinds of arguments, as there is always a political incentive to have these kind of arguments.

“It would make it much easier for the press and for economists to cut through the political spin.” 

The Scottish Government said Ms Forbes statement was accurate, citing analysis by the Fraser of Alllander Institute and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

The analyses state that while £20.6m will go to Holyrood from the Westminster 'Plan for Jobs' announcement, they also state the total amount the Scottish Government would receive in Barnett Consequentials as a result of the summer statement made by the Chancellor is £800m. 

A spokesman said: "The 0.1% [£21m] figure quoted by the Cabinet Secretary yesterday correctly states what proportion of the UK Government’s £30 billion of additional spending to support economic recovery will be coming to Scotland in Barnett consequentials.

"The figure quoted comes directly from the Treasury’s own calculations – and has been confirmed by the analysis of both the Fraser of Allander Institute and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.”