Holyrood’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee raised questions following an evidence session in parliament.
The Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee has called on the Scottish Government to clarify whether the cost of living crisis will affect the funding of Scotland’s Covid Recovery Strategy.
Following pre-budget scrutiny of how the Scottish Government plans to fund its Covid Recovery Strategy and the ongoing costs associated with the pandemic, the committee have written to John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, asking for the committee’s views to be considered when preparing the budget.
The impact of the cost of living crisis was highlighted during the committee’s evidence sessions, including concerns from witnesses over how this could affect the funding and delivery of the Covid Recovery Strategy.
Some concerns were raised that the crisis will pose more significant challenges for organisations, service providers and individuals than even those faced during the pandemic.
The Covid Recovery Strategy was published in October 2021, before the scale of the emerging cost-of-living crisis was apparent.
The strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for recovery, focusing on efforts to tackle inequality and disadvantage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and states that progress towards public service reform and a well-being economy is necessary to tackle these inequalities.
Siobhian Brown MSP, convener of the COVID-19 Recovery Committee, said: “During our pre-budget scrutiny, we heard that the Scottish Government’s budget is approximately £1.7 billion less than it was worth in December 2021 due to inflationary pressures.
“The committee, therefore, are seeking clarity on how this will impact the Scottish Government’s priorities and ability to deliver the outcomes as set out in the Covid Recovery Strategy and whether it intends to refresh the strategy to reflect any policy changes in light of the cost-of-living crisis.
“As the budget doesn’t commit to specific spending on COVID-19 or Covid Recovery, it’s important that there is greater clarity provided on how much funding the Scottish Government intends to commit to achieving the outcomes identified in its Covid Recovery Strategy within the upcoming budget.”
The Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny also set out the evidence gathered on costs associated with the Strategic Framework.
These included future pandemic preparedness, vaccinations, testing and surveillance, personal protective equipment, monitoring Covid-19 recovery and Scottish Government progress towards developing a well-being economy.