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Nicola Sturgeon: Spending £20m on Indyref2 is a ‘good investment’

A sum of £20 million has been earmarked for an independence referendum next year (Jane Barlow/PA)
A sum of £20 million has been earmarked for an independence referendum next year (Jane Barlow/PA)

Committing to spending £20 million on another independence referendum is a “good investment”, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, despite the cost-of-living crisis.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes unveiled indicative spending plans for the remainder of the parliamentary term, with a focus on health and social security resulting in real terms cuts in other areas.

However, the only funding increase in the Constitution, Culture and Europe portfolio is £20 million earmarked for another referendum on independence next year.

Questioned on the funding at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said people in Scotland were paying the price for “continued Westminster decision making”, adding: “UK Government decisions have cut our budget this year by more than 5% in real terms, they will constrain growth in our budget over the next four years to 2% while inflation is close to 10%.

“Inflation in the UK, of course, which, thanks to the folly of Brexit, is the highest of any G7 country.”

Ms Sturgeon added that the Scottish Government spends more than £700 million every year to mitigate the bedroom tax, two child benefit cap and the end to the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

“So, yes, I think that £20 million – 0.05%, one half of one tenth of one percent of the entire Scottish Government budget – to give the people of this country the opportunity to choose a better future, yes, is and will be a really good investment.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the First Minister gets “very excited” when speaking about independence and “dividing our country all over again”.

He added: “Spending £20 million on a divisive referendum in the middle of a cost of living crisis is shameful.

Douglas Ross in Holyrood
Douglas Ross said the First Minister was ‘obsessing’ about independence (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Nicola Sturgeon’s eye is off the ball again, she is obsessing about independence when people across Scotland, overwhelmingly want the focus to be on the issues that matter to them.”

The £20 million earmarked for the vote, Mr Ross said, could be used to fund police officers, nurses or teachers, or for mitigating rising energy costs.

“Charging ahead with a plan to divide us is the wrong priority when now, more than ever, we need to pull together using the strength and security we get as part of the United Kingdom to see us through the cost of living crisis just like it saw us through the Covid pandemic.”

A poll by Ipsos Mori for STV released on Wednesday suggested that support for and opposition to independence was deadlocked at 50%.

The poll also found that 50% of the 1,000 people surveyed wanted to see another referendum before the end of this parliamentary term in 2026.