Levelling Up

Scotland – in the House of Commons at on 24 January 2024.

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Photo of Chris Law Chris Law Scottish National Party, Dundee West

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the future of levelling up in Scotland.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The UK Government’s funding for levelling up has now reached more than £2.9 billion in Scotland. That includes almost £900 million of new funding announced last year. That is the equivalent of £535 per person in Scotland, and the total is set to rise with millions of pounds of further investment in 2024.

Photo of Chris Law Chris Law Scottish National Party, Dundee West

The Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Jacob Young, will meet me on Friday, but sadly that is not a courtesy that has been extended to the leader of Dundee City Council, who has repeatedly invited the Minister to a roundtable in the city to discuss funding that is critical to projects such as the Eden Project, and the life sciences innovation district among others. I have sought to continue the long-term investment and regeneration of the city through those projects in the Tay Cities region deal. Will the Minister assure me that he will urge his colleague to include those in our discussions on Friday and that his dreadful lack of engagement is from a UK Government that are committed to levelling up, not an outgoing Government winding down?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The UK Government are investing more than £60 million in projects in Dundee, and those projects have been identified as key priorities by Dundee City Council and other local partners. The hon. Member mentions the leader of Dundee City Council. After receiving £20 million for Dundee from UK levelling-up funds, the SNP leader of Dundee council recently said,

“This is just the UK Government element. I’m pursuing the Scottish Government as well, because we need both governments to work with us if we’re to make significant economic inroads into the challenges we face.”

I hope the hon. Member will agree to write a joint letter with me to his SNP colleagues in Holyrood asking, “Where is the money?”

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I ask the Minister to also convey our condolences to the Secretary of State. We were given assurances prior to Brexit that the structural funds that provide the capital funding for Scotland would be replaced by specific levelling-up and shared prosperity funding after Brexit. Can the Minister say how that funding from those sources compares to what it was prior to leaving the EU?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Four years since the United Kingdom left the EU, the UK Government have announced more than £1.4 billion for new levelling-up initiatives across Scotland. That exceeds the entire seven-year budget for the EU structural and investment funds for Scotland for 2014 to 2020—roughly £780 million of funding—so I do not accept the analysis the hon. Member presents.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

Well, no, it does not actually, because this Government have a tendency to draw all sources of capital funding into its levelling-up myth. I am talking about the specific levelling-up fund and the shared prosperity fund. They have given Scotland £471 million and £212 million respectively. That is exactly £98 million short of the £780 million that came from the EU structural funds, so when can we have the money please?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Member is simply not correct: £2.9 billion has been invested by this Government into communities the length and breadth of Scotland. I know that SNP Members have fought tooth and nail to stop that investment being delivered to those local communities, but this Conservative Government will continue to invest directly into Scotland.