THE UK Government will cut additional funding for a job retention scheme if Scotland stays in lockdown for longer than England, it has been claimed.

According to the Sunday Times, a Downing Street source has ruled out further payments if Holyrood continues to deviate from the Westminster strategy.

The UK-wide furlough scheme was recently extended until October, with the Westminster government pledging to fund 80% of workers’ wages until at least August. After that, employers may take on a share of the payments.

But the Downing Street source said that furlough payments are now likely to be distributed by the Treasury on a “sector-by-sector” rather than geographical basis.

“Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until the end of September and at 80% of salary has been well received,” the source said. “This is a fund for people across all of the UK.”

They added: “Going forward, granting funds on a geographical basis would not be an option.

"It is more likely that a sector-by-sector approach — like extra cash for the hospitality sector with Barnett consequences — would be the route to follow.”

Scottish economy ministers Kate Forbes and Fiona Hyslop have previously appealed to the Treausry for assurances that workers will continue to access support even if Scottish firms are not reopened at the same time as English ones.

In a letter to the Chancellor, they wrote: “We understand that the support will need to be scaled back over time, but it is imperative that is done in a carefully considered way, and reflects the economic priorities of each of the four nations and the different sectors of our economies.

“The ability to stagger the closure of the scheme may be beneficial in considering how we safely exit the restrictions currently in place.”