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Levelling-up Fund: Benefits to Scotland

Volume 708: debated on Wednesday 2 February 2022

6. What assessment he has made of the potential economic benefits to Scotland of the Levelling Up Fund. (905316)

Eight projects in Scotland have received a share of more than £170 million from round 1 of the levelling-up fund. Those projects will create new jobs, boost training, grow productivity and deliver tremendous economic benefit to Scotland.

With all the news on the levelling-up White Paper today, will my right hon. Friend update the House on progress towards the fund’s second round? There will be as many bidders in Scotland as there will be in my constituency, where we are keen to move forward with a bid to regenerate Lye.

Unsuccessful applicants who have passed the gateway stage will be offered feedback to support future bids. They will also be encouraged to reapply. Round 2 of the levelling-up fund is due to open in spring this year, and more information will be shared in due course.

I feel for the Secretary of State having to come to the Dispatch Box to defend his Government’s appalling record on spending for the devolved nations. Their broken promises on fully replacing EU funds look to set Wales back more than £1 billion over the next few years. Will he confirm exactly how the Government plan on plugging that gap? The shared prosperity fund will see all the devolved nations lose out on vital funding and is simply not good enough.

To be absolutely clear, regarding funding to the devolved Administrations, the first comment I would make to the hon. Lady is that the settlement for Scotland this year of £41.6 billion is an increase of £4 billion and is the highest settlement that the Scottish Government have received since 1998, so since devolution began. Regarding the UK shared prosperity fund, the European regional development fund and the European social fund are absolutely being replaced with no reduction whatever, as per our manifesto commitment.

Will my right hon. Friend inform the House of what engagement he has had—or other UK Departments have had—with the Scottish Government and, in particular, with local authorities in Scotland to ensure that levelling up is truly a levelling-up exercise across the whole of the United Kingdom?

As my hon. Friend knows from when he was in the Scotland Office with me, we have had a lot of engagement with Scottish local authorities. We have been very clear that we will deliver the levelling-up money and work with those local authorities to practice real devolution.