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Autumn Budget: Levelling Up

Sunak’s levelling up cash raises union stakes

Granton gas holder: one of the projects supported

Rishi Sunak raised the stakes in the battle over the union with a series of direct investments in Scottish projects.

As well as £4.6 billion allocated to the Holyrood government, the Chancellor has allocated more than £170 million directly to infrastructure projects in Scotland as part of the Levelling Up Fund.

The largest single payout is £38.7 million to support the regeneration of Paisley’s town centre and business area as well as upgrading pedestrian, cycling, public transport and road links between the town and the nearby Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland. There is also money for the refurbishment of Inverness Castle,

Edinburgh will receive £16.5 million to help the council unlock the first phase of the £1.3bn regeneration of Granton Waterfront which will include the restoration of the B-listed Granton gas holder.

The council’s depute leader and lead on Granton Waterfront regeneration Cammy Day described the funding as very welcome.

However, Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes argued that the money allocated to Holyrood does not represent an uplift in funding.

She added that the “levelling up” policy meant that “money Scotland would have previously received under the seven-year EU Structural Fund programmes to spend according to its own needs will now be distributed annually according to a UK Government agenda”.

Ms Forbes insisted: “This approach potentially leaves Scotland worse off, raises value for money concerns and undermines devolution.”

Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes: Scotland is worse off

She also criticised the Chancellor for cutting Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights just days before the global Cop26 climate change summit gets underway in Glasgow.

“No-one would guess from this Budget that Cop26 is taking place next week,” Ms Forbes said.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack  said: “The Budget ushers in an era of real devolution, ensuring money is spent on projects that matter most to people in Scotland.

“From the Knoydart community pub, to Dumbarton town centre and the Granton Gasworks – all these projects will bring real, visible improvements for local communities.”

He added that special funding for “Glasgow’s iconic Burrell Collection” and for the Extreme E race event for electric vehicles in the Hebrides would “help drive economic growth and jobs on the back of culture and tourism”.

The Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, hailed the package of measures as being “outstanding news for jobs and public services in Scotland”.

Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, Ian Murray, said the Budget showed how “out of touch the Chancellor’s priorities are with the rest of the country.

“A week before the global climate conference in Glasgow, he is cutting taxes on flights and champagne while working people face the highest taxes since the Second World War.”

Earlier in the day it was confirmed that the devolved administrations would have a say over the governance of the UK Shared Prosperity Prosperity Fund, which replaces the EU funding.

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