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UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Volume 697: debated on Wednesday 23 June 2021

The UK shared prosperity fund will be the successor to EU structural funds, with decisions about how taxpayers’ money is spent being taken in the United Kingdom, rather than in Brussels. The £220 million community renewal fund, for which applications closed last week, will lead us up to publishing the shared prosperity fund prospectus later this year. We look forward to working directly with local authorities in Scotland on applications for the new UK shared prosperity fund. They know best what their communities need. This is real devolution in practice.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Can he assure me that Scotland and all the other coastal and rural areas of the United Kingdom, including all the way to my constituency in Cornwall, will get their fair share of shared prosperity funding, and will he ensure that the money is distributed in a fairer way, better tailored for our economy?

The Prime Minister has previously provided assurances that our plans to replace structural funds will at least match the figures of the EU funding. We are confident that will start with the community renewal fund this year, and will lead next year into the UK shared prosperity fund, as I mentioned earlier, in April 2022. That will reach £1.5 billion in total, and I can assure my hon. Friend that her area will be receiving its fair share.

Under the EU structural funding arrangement, the Scottish Government played a role in determining the allocation of that funding. This ensured that funding was allocated based on the democratic choices of the people of Scotland, reflecting the priorities that they voted for. Will the Secretary of State now commit the UK Government to give the devolved Governments a formal say in the delivery of the SPF to ensure that democratic working continues?

What we are doing is working with all responsible delivery partners in Scotland, as I have said, and the community renewal fund will be an example of real devolution at work. We will be working with local communities and local authorities in ensuring that the projects respond to local wishes and meet local needs.

Lasting prosperity requires successful business people and, sadly, my constituency in Scotland lost one of our finest examples on Monday, when Alasdair Houston, the entrepreneurial chairman of the Gretna Green Group and a leading figure in Scottish tourism and agriculture, lost his long battle with cancer at the age of only 59. Alasdair will be remembered not just for his own zest for life and the transformational impact he had on his own businesses in the Gretna area, but for his passion for the Star of Caledonia, an iconic environmental structure being built on the Scotland-England border that will surely be his lasting legacy. Will my right hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to our friend Alasdair’s many achievements, but will he also agree that, whatever form the shared prosperity fund takes, it should reflect his spirit and support inspirational projects such as the Star?

I join my right hon. Friend in paying tribute to my close friend Alasdair Houston, and I send my deep sympathies to his family. Ali was a proud Scot, a lover of Dumfries and Galloway, and a formidable champion for Gretna, his home town, and the Star of Caledonia would be a very fitting tribute to him. He will be missed by many.