TORY claims of "extra", "further", and "additional" cash for Scotland to fight Omicron have been branded nothing but smoke and mirrors by the First Minister after it emerged that the money would have been available anyway come the new year.

Announcing new guidance in order to slow the spread of Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs on Tuesday that her government would have gone further if it had the financial powers required to do so.

The SNP leader said that Scotland's response to the pandemic had been “curtailed” by the fact that Westminster holds the purse strings.

She was speaking in Holyrood at the same time as the Treasury said the UK would make "additional" funds available to the devolved administrations to “provide greater certainty and allow them to plan as they tackle Covid-19 during the crucial weeks ahead”.

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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack praised the "further, additional, funding", while Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the "extra" funds showed the strength of the Union.

However, the Treasury later confirmed that the newly announced funds were not new at all. Instead, existing funding which would have been available in the new year had been brought forward slightly.

Reacting to the news, the First Minister said: “While any financial support in the face of the pandemic, and the emergence of the Omicron variant, is welcome, today’s announcement from the Treasury does not appear to amount to any additional funding.

“Instead, it merely advances money which Scotland would be due in any case from expected Barnett consequentials already budgeted for – with the stipulation that we would need to pay back anything received over and above the final Barnett amount.

“That’s not additional funding. That’s just classic Treasury smoke and mirrors.”

She added: “This lays bare the extent to which our existing financial powers in Scotland do not go nearly far enough in ensuring we have all the tools needed to respond quickly in the face of a rapidly evolving public health emergency.”

The First Minister also said that the UK Government’s decision not to bring in further restrictions in the wake of the new Omicron strain meant no additional cash for business support would flow to the governments in Edinburgh, Belfast or Cardiff via consequentials.

Scots were last week urged to cancel work Christmas parties – with the hospitality sector claiming this will result in a wave of cancellations leaving businesses, which have already been hit hard by Covid, facing more losses.

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had found “around £100 million that we will use to help businesses” that are affected.

But she added that because the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments are not able to borrow cash to help them tackle the virus, they were forced to “rely on the Treasury”.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister continued: “Because the UK Government is at this stage not proposing any further protections – a position I do not agree with – there is no funding generated to compensate businesses for any protections we think are necessary and wish to put in place.

“That is not acceptable in current circumstances and, with the Welsh and Northern Irish Governments, we are pressing for a fairer approach that takes account of our devolved responsibilities for protecting public health.

“But for now, this is the situation we are in, and it means our public health response is curtailed by lack of finance.”

Businesses and union leaders, meanwhile, stressed the need for more financial support.

Andrew McRae, Scotland policy chair for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Governments in Edinburgh and London must cooperate to ensure the amount of cash support available to firms matches the scale of the restrictions. The financial firepower to help firms during this stage of the crisis must be found.”

Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary, Roz Foyer, stated: “We are calling for urgent action from the UK Government to bring forward support including the re-introduction of the furlough scheme.”