Westminster accused of ‘power grab’ over Levelling Up funds

A fund which aims to boost regeneration is being extended to Scotland.

Westminster accused of ‘power grab’ over Levelling Up funds SNS Group

The UK Government has been accused of a “naked power grab” after it announced a fund which aims to boost regeneration is being extended to Scotland.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay, said communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will now all benefit from at least £800m of investment by the UK Government.

The money, from the Levelling Up Fund, can be used for town centre and high street regeneration and local transport schemes, as well as cultural and heritage projects.

Barclay said: “Our levelling-up fund will back local projects to improve everyday life for millions of people and we look forward to working with all areas to boost local economies.

“By extending the levelling-up fund to be UK-wide, we are ensuring that no community in the United Kingdom is left behind.”

However, the SNP accused Westminster of bypassing the devolved Scottish Government, by spending money in areas that is said were controlled by Holyrood ministers.

The party’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said: “The Tory Government’s move to bypass the devolved Governments and dictate spending over devolved areas is yet another sign of its naked power grab plans.”

She added: “Rather than passing on funding through Barnett consequentials – which could have seen Scotland receiving its share totalling around £400m – the Tories are intent on dismantling devolution and taking control, with absolutely no clarity over how much will be spent in Scotland.”

Oswald said the extension of the Levelling Up Fund had come after the UK Government cut Scotland’s capital budget by 5% in the latest spending review.

She insisted: “The funding for Scotland should be passed to the Scottish Government to administer on behalf of the people of Scotland.”

But Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the extended fund was “a fantastic example of the UK Government delivering for people in Scotland”.

The Conservative MP said: “It will provide a boost to communities right across Scotland as we set out to build back better from the Covid pandemic.”

He added that the initiative would allow the UK Government to “directly invest in capital projects in Scotland”, as he said he looked forward to

“working on the delivery of the fund in Scotland and with local authorities, who know best what their communities really need”.