Kenneth and his colleagues recently questioned the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove MP, at the Finance and Public Administration Committee.
Mr Gove was there to provide clarity on how the UK Government plans to replace the annual investment of around £183 million in EU Structural and matched funding that Scotland received when the UK was in the European Union.
According to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), Scotland was allocated up to €944 million in Structural Funding under the EU’s 2014-2020 budget framework. To be unlocked, this funding was always matched domestically.
Even Westminster’s Treasury Committee - which has a Tory majority - recently concluded that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund up to 2024-25 will suffer a 40% reduction compared with the amount of funding that the UK received a year from EU structural funds from 2014 to 2020.
When Kenneth asked how the UK Government would ensure Scotland would not lose out, Mr Gove argued that alongside the Shared Prosperity Fund, the missing funding would also be made up by the Levelling Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund. The latter is a one year fund.
Mr Gove furthermore stated that the EU funding is tailing off and as such, there is still some EU funding coming in, but unfortunately, no sums as to how Scotland’s income would add up to anything in the region of £183 annually were provided.
The Committee also voiced concerns about the Tory Government’s intent to allocate funds for disbursement directly to local authorities. This would not only bypass Holyrood but could also lead to projects of national importance missing out in local allocation processes.
Committee Convenor Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“While the Tory Government said there would be a Shared Prosperity Fund, no information was supplied as to how Scotland would benefit from it.
“In 2021 they announced a Levelling Up Fund, but shockingly, it was only going to be for England.
“This has now changed; however, despite repeated calls by the SNP Government and SNP MPs, the announced funds do not add up to match the £183 million annual investment Scotland had in the days of the EU Structural Funds.
“I urge UK Ministers to provide clarity on the funding gap, and to work with the Scottish and Welsh Governments if they really want this to be a vehicle for prosperity, not for promotion of Westminster.”
The meeting can be watched here.