Sustained SNP pressure on the UK Government has paid off for Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue after the Chancellor finally backed down following years of unfairness to allow them to reclaim VAT from next April.

Scotland’s emergency services are the only territorial forces in the UK unable to reclaim VAT, which costs them £35million a year.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson welcomed the long overdue reversal in Wednesday’s Budget – but stressed that the refusal to return the £140million already paid by Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue means the Tory Government continue to short-change emergency services in Falkirk district and across Scotland.

He called on the Chancellor to end this betrayal of our forces and give them back the £140million they are owed.

Mr Matheson said: “I welcome the news that the UK Government will no longer unfairly take £35million from Scotland’s police and fire budgets every year. This is a clear victory for the SNP on a matter that I campaigned on relentlessly in my capacity as Justice Secretary.

“However, the Chancellor’s refusal to refund the money our forces have already paid shows how little the Tories care about our emergency services.

“If they finally agree that it was unfair for Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue to have to pay VAT, how can they possibly justify keeping the money they have already taken?

“The £140million owed to Scotland, which could help bolster police and fire services in Falkirk district and across the country, is a drop in the ocean compared with the £1billion the Tories handed to the DUP to prop up a weak and wobbly Prime Minister and government. It shows they are more concerned with safeguarding their own position than keeping our communities safe.”