£20m indyref2 budget reallocated to fuel poverty fund after Supreme Court ruling
Funding earmarked by the Scottish Government for an independence referendum next year has been reallocated to help people at risk of fuel poverty.
The Scottish Government had set aside £20 million in its resource spending review published in the spring for indyref2 in October 2023.
But the UK Supreme Court ruled last month that Holyrood does not have the powers to legislate for another referendum.
As a result, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced during his budget statement on Thursday that the £20 million will be spent elsewhere.
He told MSPs “The Government believed (the £20 million) to be a necessary investment, to ensure the people of Scotland have the opportunity to express their democratic right to self-governance.
“The Scottish Government respects the decision of the Supreme Court, but still believes the people of Scotland should have the opportunity to have that say in a democratic referendum in line with our clear mandate.”
Ministers, Mr Swinney said, will “make financial provisions available” if another vote is granted, but he added: “At this moment, I must make full use of the resources available to me.”
The funding will instead be used to support people in fuel poverty, he said.
This should encourage the SNP-Green Government to focus more on things that people really care about rather than an unhealthy obsession with separation
“In order to help our most vulnerable citizens, I intend to utilise the finance earmarked for a referendum on independence to make provision to extend our fuel insecurity fund into the next year, a further £20 million to address yet another failure of the United Kingdom and its policies.”
Responding to the move, Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “We highlighted a number of better ways for the Scottish Government to spend that £20 million, one of which was doubling the fuel insecurity fund.
“Fortunately John Swinney has listened and people across Scotland will see that benefit.
“This should encourage the SNP-Green Government to focus more on things that people really care about rather than an unhealthy obsession with separation.
“It’s time for the people’s priorities, not the SNP’s.”
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