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The country is yet to receive most of its Culture Recovery Fund allocation from May, the Culture Minister has claimed, as restrictions tighten.

Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth addresses Holyrood on the delay in funding

Scotland is yet to receive £31m of Culture Recovery Fund money from the UK Government, its Culture Minister has claimed.

Jenny Gilruth says only £9m of £40m due to Scotland has been delivered and that MPs and industry "are still seeking clarity from HM Treasury on why the £40m has still not been passed on in full to us".

Receiving the country's share of £300m extra announced for the fund in May is crucial to the sector's recovery from the pandemic. The Scottish Budget for 2022/23, published last week, notes its "dependency on Barnett consequentials from the UK Government being received".


Culture and major events won a £30.8m uplift in Scottish Government funding for the coming year, but audience confidence and attendance is down following messy implementation of vaccine certification for large events.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday (December 14) that new restrictions to prevent "crowding and bottlenecks" were on their way for businesses, indicating a return to social distancing.

She said working from home where possible will become "a legal duty" and called on the public to reduce their contact with other households in the days before and after Christmas.

Because the edict came from the Scottish Government, not the UK Government, there was no extra funding for businesses to implement these changes, Sturgeon explained. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced more funding for the devolved administrations as the Scottish Prime Minister was making her speech, though a specific sum hasn't been confirmed.

Gilruth, who met with former Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden twice about the Culture Recovery Fund allocation earlier this year, said the delay in support creates uncertainty that "is not welcome at this time".

"The withholding of funding by the UK Government is placing Scottish arts and cultural organisations at a significant disadvantage compared to our counterparts elsewhere in the UK."

HM Treasury did not respond to a request for comment. 

'Severely weakened'

Scotland's cultural sector is in a "severely weakened position" due to the delay in funding.

The Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce, a collective of managers, promoters, producers, festivals and venues, shared this bald assessment in a recent letter to Sunak, calling for an urgent resolution.

Events' income is at risk as no shows have grown to 40% of audiences in some cases, the Scottish Government's Events Industry Advisory Group said.

The body also warned last month of declining attendance and said the sector would need extra financial support to ensure compliance with vaccine certification. Members told Gilruth that finding enough staff to hold events "is becoming an increasingly insurmountable problem".

The Scottish arm of the Night Time Industries Association, which represents bars as well as event venues, said its members are reporting cancellations for Christmas events to such a degree that they may not continue trading.

"If the new Omicron variant threatens the NHS then of course our sector will again step up and play our part – but Government must also now step up... with immediate financial support that replaces lost festive season income on a pound-for-pound basis," Vice-Chair Gavin Stevenson said.

Additional support

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will provide £100m for the "hospitality, food and also the culture sector", thought further details are not yet available.

"I know it does not go far enough in compensating businesses for what we are asking for now," she acknowledged.

Gilruth said the Scottish Government has provided £175m of emergency funding for the cultural sector - "far in excess of the £97m of consequentials we received from the UK Government".

She announced a further £1m for museums' and galleries' Covid preparedness, £1m for the Scottish Crannog Centre to rebuild from a fire in June, and £7.9m for a new television studio at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall.