Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross clash in election debate
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The Arbroath and Montrose branches of the SNP made business support grant applications to Angus Council in July for £10,000 each. But they were later told grants should not have been given to political parties and asked to repay the sum.
Following the revelations, the Scottish Conservatives claimed the SNP should “come clean” over whether any other offices had applied for the grants.
Maurice Golden, the Conservative candidate for Angus South, said: “This ruse has already resulted in the SNP paying back £20,000 for falsely claiming taxpayers’ money.
“The SNP need to investigate how widespread this problem is and come clean about how much they claimed in total.
“This cash was designed to help honest businesses through a global pandemic which has cost thousands of lives in Scotland.
“Instead, the nationalists used it to line the pockets of their own selfish cause.”
The SNP leader said she was not aware of any other branches which had claimed coronavirus support money.
She added: “Do I think it is appropriate? No.
“As I understand it the rules weren’t broken but the councils have decided that it is not appropriate, and the money in one case has been paid back and in the other case is in the process of being paid back.
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“I think that is the right thing to do. I don’t think that would be and is an appropriate use of public money.
“I’m not aware of other branches in the SNP.
But the First Minister claimed 10 Conservative branch offices in England have also claimed for Covid support money.
She concluded: “I think the Tory position on this is somewhat hypocritical.”
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In response, Alex King, branch treasurer for the SNP Arbroath branch, claimed the Government rules did not specify political parties were not entitled to the money initially.
In a statement, he said: “The rules at the outset did not state the local branch offices of political parties were not entitled to receive business support grant.
“As the branch treasurer, I made an application based on the rules as they appeared at the time, which was accepted as valid, with a grant of £10,000 being awarded.
“Last week I received a letter from Ian Lorimer [at Angus Council] requesting that the branch repay that £10,000 as we were not entitled to receive it.”
Mr King made clear that arrangements to repay the £10,000 were “immediately set in motion” and stressed, “the grant has been repaid by bank transfer as requested.”
He concluded: “It is a pity that these rules regarding political parties were not available when I applied for the grant as this situation could then have easily been avoided.”
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