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UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Volume 714: debated on Wednesday 18 May 2022

1. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the impact of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund on regional inequality in Scotland. (900000)

Rangers, that great British football club, are in Seville tonight for the Europa league final. I hope that the whole House, including the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray), who is an avid Hearts fan, and the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), who is an avid Hibs fan, will join me in wishing them a famous victory.

All areas in Scotland will receive an allocation of UKSPF via a needs-based funding formula. Local leaders are empowered to design their own interventions in line with the levelling up missions. We are determined to boost productivity, pay, jobs and living standards.

Will my right hon. Friend kindly explain how the allocation of SPF funding in Scotland and across the rest of the UK will help level up those communities more effectively than the previous structural funding?

The UK shared prosperity fund is a central pillar of our ambitious levelling-up agenda for places across Scotland and provides £212 million of new funding for local investment. Local partners have far greater flexibility than before. They can invest in priority areas and target funds where they are needed. Allocations are being made on a needs-based assessment, including a specifically tailored proportion for rural areas in Scotland.

Scotland has been short-changed by the loss of EU funding, leaving a 40% reduction in the funding that we would have received from the EU. It is not only the Scottish Government saying that but the Treasury Committee, the House of Lords Constitution Committee and Bloomberg, so there is clearly no levelling up. What steps has the Secretary of State taken to ensure that Scotland’s shortfall in funding is remedied, and remedied fast?

I seek to correct the hon. Lady: the funding is tapered with UK structural funds. EU structural funds and UK structural funds are tapered. We paid into EU funds, and the EU is still paying into Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, but the advantage of Brexit is that we now have control over that money and can decide how we spend it. The amount of money in total has not been reduced in any way.

For years, Ministers have assured organisations in receipt of EU structural funding that the UK shared prosperity fund would maintain that funding after Brexit. Finally, the Government published the details of their shared prosperity fund and, for organisations such as the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre based in Orkney, it was a brutal blow. The Government broke their promise. As a result, EMEC, a site that has tested more marine energy devices than any other in the world, now faces closure. What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that his Cabinet colleagues keep their promise of matching the funding for EMEC and other Interreg projects in Scotland?

Discussions with EMEC are ongoing between my office, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. We are making progress, but there is further progress to be made. To that end, I am happy to offer a face-to-face meeting with EMEC.