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Coronavirus / New Covid funding scheme will give councils greater flexibility

A NEW Covid support fund which will give local councils greater flexibility on how the money is distributed has been announced by the Scottish Government.

The £80 million Covid economic recovery fund is designed to help businesses and communities as Scotland “moves to a new phase” in the pandemic.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) first minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce a new approach to managing and recovering from the Covid pandemic.

Today prime minister Boris Johnson is due to set out his plans to remove all remaining legal Covid restrictions in England, including isolation requirements.

This has caused some concern, particularly around testing arrangements and the implications it could have on the devolved nations such as Scotland.

The new Scottish Government funding will give councils the flexibility to target support either using existing schemes like Scotland Loves Local, Business Improvement Districts or individual local authority grant schemes.

Councils will also to able to use the funding to support low income households, the government said.

Local government body COSLA welcomed the news, with president Alison Evison saying it will give local authorities a chance to “play an even greater role in supporting economic and social recovery in their areas as we move out of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“We know that businesses, communities and low income households have been hit hard over the last two years and local government has been at the forefront of supporting those most affected,” she said.

“The flexibility offered by this funding will enable councils to provide local support where they know the need is greatest.”

Sturgeon meanwhile added: “It is our aim to get back to normality as quickly as possible.

“Our updated strategic framework, which I will set out to parliament tomorrow, will support resilience in communities across Scotland by outlining robust plans to prepare for possible new variants or other future emergencies, should we need to act to protect public health.

“Of course, the best way to support business sustainably is to act responsibly and to sustainably manage the risks the virus presents as we begin to live the more normal life that we all crave.”

The £80 million for the fund is made up of the remaining funding from the £375 million Omicron business support package and underspend from some of the funding allocated, where business demand has been less than initially forecast.