Nicola Sturgeon has said banks have a “big responsibility” in the coronavirus response after being bailed out during the financial crash.
The Scottish First Minister urged the banking sector to act in a “responsible manner” helping limit the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, to both individuals through mortgage relief and by supporting Scottish businesses.
As part of the Chancellor’s package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact, Rishi Sunak said he wanted mortgage lenders to offer a three-month “holiday” period for those affected by coronavirus.
Speaking to the PA News Agency during a visit to Age Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said she expected banks to honour that.
Ms Sturgeon said: “From the biggest bank to the individual in the smallest community in Scotland, we all have a part to play here.
“We’re heading into stormy waters but if we all play our part, we can steer the ship through these stormy waters and that’s my message to everybody.”
She also endorsed the words of Scotland’s economy minister, who said in parliament yesterday: “In recent times the country has supported the banks. It’s now time for the banks to support the country.”
Asked about the comments, Ms Sturgeon said: “Banks have big responsibility here and I would echo and endorse Fiona Hyslop’s comments.
“The banks got bailed out and they got bailed out for the overall good of the economy, but the country did help the banks.
“The country’s now looking to the banks to be part of our national response to the coronavirus and I hope and expect that they will behave in that responsible manner.
“In terms of what the Chancellor said yesterday about mortgages, I would expect banks to do that.
“Banks should be looking at how they make sure that they can support businesses and business customers through these difficult times.”
Ms Sturgeon welcomed the announcement of funding for businesses by Mr Sunak and reiterated that the Scottish Government will “pass every penny that comes to us for business support” on to help affected businesses in Scotland.
In a later press conference, Ms Sturgeon added: “This further package of measures will be worth £1.9 billion and that will involve every single penny of support going to Scotland from the Treasury announcement being passed onto businesses here.”