Alister Jack: We can work together across Scotland to create equality of opportunity and transform lives

Creating opportunities for all, regardless of background, and enabling communities to flourish is a defining mission of the UK Government.

We recognise that while talent, enterprise and ambition are spread right across the country - not everyone has had the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

It cannot be right that people fall by the wayside through no fault of their own and the UK Government is determined to change that.

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We are doing this by working with communities across Scotland and collaborating with governments at all levels for the common good. To this end the UK Government has allocated hundreds of millions of pounds for our Levelling Up Fund (LUF) in Scotland.

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack. Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images
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Vast majority of Scottish councils bid for UK Government levelling-up funds

We are already seeing the benefits flowing from the first tranche of the UK Government’s direct funding – just one of several UK Government funding streams bringing prosperity across the country.

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Applications by councils to the first round of the fund resulted in £172 million awarded to Scottish projects earlier this year.

That cash is already regenerating urban areas, financing major infrastructure projects and boosting communities by funding imaginative, multi-million pound schemes.

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The success of the round one projects has led to a flurry of applications from Scottish councils the length and breadth of the country for the second round of cash. The deadline for applications passed recently and I can reveal we have received even more bids to this second round than we did in round one. It is a truly remarkable response, which speaks to the success of the UK Government’s approach.

It is also testament to the hard work of councils and I thank them for the deep thought and hard graft, which has produced so many impressive submissions.

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We firmly believe that local people are in the best position to work out how their communities will benefit from public funds. That’s why they have been asked to submit their own applications to the LUF. By investing directly in projects that have been created by locals for locals, the UK Government is pursuing true devolution in its purest form.

The applications will be considered carefully before it is decided which bids are successful. But from what I have seen so far, I have been hugely impressed by them.

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Many councils led by all political colours have applied in the last few weeks – because they recognise this as a great opportunity to seize the support on offer to do right by their communities.

This is a ringing endorsement of our true devolution vision and our determination to work closely as we can with the people who best understand what their communities need.

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All told, £800 million will be invested in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales through this one avenue of the UK Government’s approach - taking the total injected into Scotland through direct UK Government investment well beyond the £2 billion mark.

Of that total, £1.5 billion is being invested in 12 growth deals across Scotland, where our funding has been matched by the Scottish Government, building successful partnerships with councils, private enterprise and universities to create highly paid jobs. We are working with the Scottish Government to deliver two Scottish freeports backed by £52 million from the UK Treasury. While the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces EU funding, will provide another important strand of our overall levelling up delivery.

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This proves we can work together across Scotland to create equality of opportunity and transform lives.

Alister Jack MP, Scottish Secretary

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