Analyzing how the distribution of PS4.4 billion in Covid-19 funds to businesses is not feasible due to an information gap an independent watchdog has stated.
The Scottish Government has provided grant funds and business rate relief between the beginning of the pandemic and October of last year. Along with another PS375 million after the outbreak in the Omicron variant at the year’s end in 2021.
But, Audit Scotland said there was “not enough focus” on gathering high-quality information “below an aggregate level.”
A report released on Thursday stated that the accuracy and quality of data gathered by the government “vary” and prevent detailed investigation of how the funds were allotted and how fast it was distributed.
Auditor General Stephen Boyle said: “These business support schemes were run rapidly in extraordinary circumstances. But knowing where the funds went is important.
“To get future policy development and delivery right, it will be important for the Scottish Government to fully understand how funding was used to support specific businesses and groups over the last two years of the pandemic.”
As per the findings, the Scottish Government cannot offer an analysis of the total amount of money paid to various economic industries through the general funding schemes. The information which could permit analysis of the groups most affected by the epidemic isn’t accessible through Government centrally. Government centrally.
The sector-specific funding administered by organizations instead of councils or Governments has run into problems, with around 20% of the funds not being linked to specific council regions.
William Moyes, chairman of the Accounts Commission, said arrangements that councils have put in place to guard against fraud when they provide the funds are “heavily relied upon” during the epidemic, adding that “Councils will need to continue to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure a better picture emerges of how money was distributed.”
Responding to the report, the Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said she was “pleased” it recognized the speed at which the Government has rolled out funds to companies and how the report “reflects the unique and challenging context in which new support packages had to be established.”
She said: “Every decision the Scottish Government has taken is based around ensuring that businesses receive the help they required in the time they needed it, which has resulted in more than PS4.5 billion being given to companies across the country, which includes PS1.6 billion in relief from rates which is much more generous than other UK administrations up to now.
“We will now carefully consider the findings of this report, and of course, any lessons will be learned, but fundamentally this report shows the decisions we took ensured lifeline support reached key businesses promptly, and our economy continued to grow by 7.1% despite the necessary public health restrictions.”
Forbes (below) added that he thanked the enterprise agencies, industry, and councils, noting that “we would not have been able to offer this lifeline assistance at speed and in the amount necessary.”Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson Liz Smith said the report revealed a “shocking lack of data.”
She stated: “Enormous sums of public funds were dispensed to assist struggling businesses, but because of the SNP, we don’t understand the exact location.
“While we recognize that Covid funding was required to be distributed quickly, there is no reason for this shocking deficiency of information.
“Audit Scotland is there to make sure that public funds are used responsibly, and if even they are unable to trace where the money was spent, the Government’s accountability is in the dust.
“Taxpayers have a right to know where their hard-earned cash has gone and will naturally be suspicious when this information can’t – or won’t – be provided by an SNP Government that increasingly considers itself above scrutiny.”
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said the Scottish Government has “disdain for economic transparency.”
He continued: “Billions of pounds have been deposited into the SNP Treasury, but the spending has been encased in mystery and confusion…
“The lack of data highlighted in this report makes it impossible to determine whether these huge sums reached those who needed it and delivered good value for taxpayers.”
TOP 4 Essay Writing Services in the USA: 2023 Edition
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TOP 4 Essay Writing Services in the USA: 2023 Edition
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