FM Says UK Gov. Cuts Scots Cash

Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK Treasury of trying to "systematically reduce the Scottish budget'' as talks over future funding arrangements appear deadlocked.

The Scottish First Minister has written to David Cameron to complain the UK and Scottish governments are not currently working on a "shared understanding'' of one of the key principles behind proposals for further devolution.

The two administrations have been locked in protracted negotiations over the fiscal framework for the Scotland Bill, which sets out how the block grant will be altered when MSPs get new tax-raising powers.

The Scottish Government had been working to a deadline of February 12 for a deal to be agreed - although Ms Sturgeon said her deputy John Swinney is looking to see if there is any flexibility in this timetable.

The Scottish Government has already said it will submit a revised proposal ``consistent with the principles of the Smith Commission'' in the next few days.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Perhaps most importantly if a deal is to be reached, I am writing to the Prime Minister today, seeking to address what I consider to be the central issue of principle that is standing in the way of a deal - the fact that we are currently not working to a shared understanding of what no detriment means.

"It has become increasingly clear that what the Treasury seems to want to achieve is an outcome that would systematically reduce the Scottish budget as a result of our differential growth in population, even though the Scotland Bill gives us no additional powers to grow our population.''

The First Minister said she had written to Mr Cameron "to ask him to confirm that he shares my understanding of no detriment''.

She stated: "If he does, our negotiating teams can then get on with striking a deal which delivers no detriment, rather than doing what the Treasury seems to want to do, which is have a negotiation about how much detriment Scotland should agree to bear.''

Both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney have previously warned they will pull the plug on the Scotland Bill by recommending MSPs veto the legislation if the two governments cannot strike a deal on the fiscal framework.

They insist they are ''not bluffing'', with the SNP claiming a bad deal could cost Scotland billions of pounds in the long-term.


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