NICOLA Sturgeon has called into question a claim by the Treasury that it has doubled the amount of additional funding for the devolved nations.

The Chancellor said the cash would include a further £440 million for Scotland to fight the Omicron spread.

It means the devolved administrations can now spend an additional £860 million, increased from an initial £430m that was recently announced, UK officials said.

But the First Minister has called into question whether cash for Scotland has been "doubled".

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Sturgeon tweeted: “Before we get spin on ‘doubling’: 1/ the £220m announced last week was NOT new or additional (it was actually £48m less than we had been expecting).

"Seeking confirmation if this new £220m is additional (tho if so £48m will just make up last w/k loss) and if it has to be repaid.”

She said that “to the extent it is new/additional”, the Scottish Government will make sure it goes in full to helping business and the overall Covid effort.

Sturgeon added: “As infections soar and businesses suffer, we still need much more urgency in action/support from UK Gov – so that devolved gov hands not tied.

“To that end, it was disappointing and frustrating that neither the PM nor the Chancellor attended this evening’s Cobra.”

Following the UK Cobra meeting, attended by the First Minister, a spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said: “The First Minister was utterly incredulous to discover neither the Prime Minister nor the Chancellor were on today’s COBR call.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Wednesday December 15, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire

Boris Johnson failed to attend the Cobra meeting

"That is three Cobra calls in succession that they have not attended.

“The meeting itself focussed on the mounting figures for the Omicron variant and on the impact the variant will have on staffing across both the public and private sectors.

"The First Minister made clear that she believed that these serious impacts should not be accepted as inevitable and that we should all focus on action to avoid that happening in the first place.

“Treasury ministers revealed that they were now able to commit to some limited further funding. This is welcome.

"The reality, however, appears to be that this is not additional and is simply a form of ‘advance’ on funding that would have come to Scotland anyway. We are seeking urgent clarity on this.

The National:

Nicola Sturgeon refuted the claim Covid cash to Scotland has been 'doubled'

“We need more urgency, greater clarity and faster action from the UK. The need is real and the need is now. In the face of the clear advice of public health experts, it is impossible to understand why the UK still refuses to act.”

The move by the UK followed pleas by Nicola Sturgeon and the First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland for extra money to help businesses affected by Covid restrictions.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the increased funding following discussions with the devolved administrations while they met for a Cobra meeting with the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay. 

The amounts now being provided to each government on top of their Autumn Budget 2021 funding are:
•    Scottish Government - £440 million
•    Welsh Government - £270 million
•    Northern Ireland Executive - £150 million

A statement from the Treasury said the amounts will continue to be kept under review.

These are additional amounts on top of the combined £77.6 billion confirmed for this year at the Autumn Budget 2021.

It means that the Devolved Administrations have the certainty they requested to spend additional funding now rather than waiting for Supplementary Estimates in the new year.

Sunak said: "Following discussions with the Devolved Administrations, we are now doubling the additional funding available.

“We will continue to listen to and work with the Devolved Administrations in the face of this serious health crisis to ensure we’re getting the booster to people all over the UK and that people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported.”

READ MORE: Kirsty Strickland: Boris Johnson’s as big a threat to public health as Omicron

Responding to the Treasury announcement of additional support for the Scottish Government, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government has provided unprecedented support to people in all parts of the UK since the very beginning of the pandemic, and that support continues. 

"The Treasury is doubling the upfront funding available for the Scottish Government to £440 million, giving them the financial certainty they need to progress the vaccine rollout and wider Covid-19 response. 

“This is on top of extra money which has already been provided to the Scottish Government to support public services during covid – £6.5 billion in this financial year alone – plus a record core funding settlement of £41 billion a year for the next three years. 

“The UK Government is also continuing to support businesses with loans and VAT cuts for our tourism and hospitality sectors."

Take a look at the latest cases of Omicron across the UK on our interactive map below...