Levelling Up Communities

Scotland – in the House of Commons on 16th March 2022.

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Photo of Duncan Baker Duncan Baker Conservative, North Norfolk

What steps his Department is taking to level up communities across Scotland.

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The benefits of the transformative levelling-up agenda have already been realised following round 1 of the levelling-up fund. Eight Scottish projects are receiving a share of £171 million, which will help to create jobs, boost training and grow productivity. Round 2 of the fund will open in spring in addition to another major funding mechanism, the UK shared prosperity fund.

Photo of Duncan Baker Duncan Baker Conservative, North Norfolk

What levelling-up plans are there specifically for the rural areas of Scotland, so that from the Outer Hebrides to Orkney, the highlands to the lowlands, the whole of Scotland can benefit?

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

All parts of Scotland will receive a share of the UK shared prosperity fund, which will provide £2.6 billion of new funding by March 2025 through an allocation rather than a competition. Additionally, the levelling-up White Paper includes the creation of a new islands forum, which will bring together local leaders from island communities across the UK to share challenges and experiences directly with the UK Government.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

A former European regional development fund recipient described to me the distribution of levelling-up funding as akin to the random sprinkling of confetti, because it is random and wide open to the sort of pork-barrelling that we saw in the stronger towns fund. Why will the Government not work directly with devolved Governments so that the funding dovetails with all the knowledge, experience and workstreams that already exist to ensure outcomes that can be measured against some recognisable targets?

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I am rather surprised that the hon. Lady seeks to criticise levelling up as pork barrel politics when her constituency is benefiting from a multimillion-pound investment in the regeneration of Granton. I would have thought that she would be pleased with that.