THE Treasury failed to tell the Scottish Government that they were planning on extending the furlough scheme - despite high level phone calls between ministers.

John Swinney revealed that he and his colleagues only found out about the major change to the Covid financial package while watching Boris Johnson’s TV update. 

On Saturday night, the Prime Minister said the furlough scheme, which pays 80% of workers’ wages, would be extended until December 2. 

The Deputy First Minister said the details of the scheme, and particularly whether the money would only be available in the short term or if there would be a degree of flexibility,  was vital in deciding whether or not Scotland goes into a national lockdown. 

Swinney told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme: “The biggest concern I have about furlough is the fact that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland asked the UK government for an extension several weeks ago, and we were told a very firm no and there was no money available.

“We now find that furlough is going to be available. It's a matter of concern that the issues that we faced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were just disregarded by the UK government, but it's a welcome measure that it's now back on the table.

“What we need to know is the circumstances in which follow payments are going to be available. Are they only going to be available when England's got a problem or are they going to be available at all times in all parts of the United Kingdom.”

He added:“In the briefing that took place yesterday from the UK government ministers we were not told that furlough was going to be extended, we found that out from the press.”

With the Treasury due to speak to the Scottish Government later today, Swinney called for “urgent clarity”.

The news of the furlough extension was met with frustration by the devolved governments and England’s regional mayors.

While there was a general welcome for the financial support, there is anger that it only happened when the south of England was in need. 

Instead when Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and huge swathes of England were forced to introduce stricter restrictions, the only help from the Tories was the Job Support Scheme, which paid workers 67%. 

When Sunak tweeted about the extension of the furlough last night, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: “But when we asked you to do that for the lowest-paid people in the North, you refused. People here will remember that.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson agreed: "That's the point about contempt... that they dismissed the [north of England's] call for the furlough scheme to be introduced in tier three but now have all of a sudden found the 80% furlough scheme for a tier four or national lockdown," he said.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: “Furlough is crucial for businesses. But @RishiSunak said he wouldn’t extend it in Wales when we asked. He also said no when we asked him to bring forward the Job Support Scheme to help businesses – we even said we’d pay the difference. It’s now clear he could have said yes.”

However, Tory MP Andrew Bowie paid tribute to the Chancellor's announcement. 

"Furlough extended across the UK. We stand together," he said.

The SNP's Neil Gray wasn't convinced. "But only when the UK Government deems it necessary, Andrew? Why not when Scottish Government along with Welsh and NI requested this in September?" he replied.