Edinburgh faces £18m Covid funding being reclaimed by Scottish Government

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MSP says money could help tackle delayed discharge

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs has hit out at the Scottish Government's plan to reclaim £18 million of Covid cash from Edinburgh. He said the impact of the pandemic was still being felt in the Capital, not least in social care, and the money could play a vital part in tackling the crisis.

The government has written to councils, health boards and integration joint boards (IJBs) across the country, notifying them it would be seeking to recover “surplus” Covid-related funding. A report to the Edinburgh IJB in October said it had a Covid reserve of £44.9m at the start of the year and costs were estimated at £26.8m, suggesting a figure of £18.1m which the government would want to reclaim.

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But Mr Briggs claimed the money was still needed. And he has written to Deputy First Minister John Swinney, arguing that the pressures on health and social care caused by Covid continued to be an issue. In his letter he said: “Edinburgh IJB is under severe pressure and the money which you are planning on reclaiming would go a long way in helping to alleviate pressure in social care in the Capital. Levels of delayed discharge have returned to pre-pandemic levels and significant investment is required to continue moving to a care in the community model.”

Mr Briggs told the Evening News: “Edinburgh still has some of the highest pressures around delayed discharge. I want to know why we're having this money taken away, which can only make what is a social care crisis even worse. A lot of the discussions councils and health boards have had have been about trying to build additional capacity with some of that funding.

"During Covid that's very much what happened: getting people into accommodation and out of hospital. But now the funding is being clawed back, which can only reduce opportnities to resolve some of these problems.”

The government’s letter to councils, health boards and IJBs said there had been been a number of changes to public health policies on Covid over the summer, resulting in a significant reduction in Covid spending compared to when the funding was provided. "In response to this, the Scottish Government will reclaim surplus Covid reserves to be redistributed across the sector to meet current Covid priorities”