UK government's 'levelling up' agenda: Here's just a taste of what it means for Scotland – Iain Stewart MP

The people at the heart of our communities are best placed to decide how taxpayers’ money is spent in their areas. That truism lies at the heart of the UK government’s approach to the new funds we are investing in Scotland.

The UK government is to spend £158,000 to get more young people involved in mountain biking (Picture: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images)
The UK government is to spend £158,000 to get more young people involved in mountain biking (Picture: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images)

Proof of the success of that approach can be seen in the sheer variety of locally produced projects to receive cash, which will transform lives and create new opportunities for Scotland.

Transport infrastructure, our cultural life, tourism, regeneration and a host of green projects will all benefit from a UK government budget which brought our levelling up agenda to life.

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The £4.8 billion UK Levelling Up Fund (LUF) will improve infrastructure, including regenerating town centre and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets. Almost £200 million of these funds are to be distributed across Scotland.

For example, £20 million will be spent on new road infrastructure to alleviate the congestion at Falkirk’s Westfield roundabout. More than £23 million will be spent on improving road links between North Ayrshire and the rest of Scotland.

Another £38 million will support transport and regeneration in Paisley plus £19.9 million to transform Dumbarton.

In Edinburgh, the funding will deliver more than £16 million to regenerate the Granton waterfront. And Aberdeen is getting £20 million for a “Masterplan”, which will transform the city centre.

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I have been hugely impressed by the visionary and hugely practical Scottish submissions produced by local authorities and community groups. Which brings me to the Community Renewal Fund (CRF).

The UK government is providing an additional £220 million through the UK CRF to help local areas prepare for the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022.

This investment will see £173,400 spent on developing drone missions in Argyll and Bute, a project that has already resulted in medical supplies being flown to our most remote areas.

Building on our successful city and growth deal projects is a key feature of our approach. For example, the £158,000 CRF cash to get more young people involved in mountain biking plays into the Borderlands growth deal.

The money will be added to the £19 million the UK government has invested through the Borderlands deal into developing a world-class mountain bike centre in Innerleithen.

More than £106,000 will go towards helping young people with autism develop cybersecurity skills to help them into work through Perth Autistic Support and Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands.

On the island of Lewis, around £70,000 will go towards strengthening the renewable sector and decarbonising rural transport. Almost £408,000 will go towards the UK’s only dedicated seaweed industrial facility in Argyll and Bute to maximise the potential of this underestimated resource.

Around £345,000 will go towards Dundee’s most deprived communities to support business and encourage entrepreneurs. In a single article, it is impossible to give a full flavour of the sheer variety of the 70 or so projects to benefit from our latest funding rounds.

But these are some of many examples of our commitment to empowering local people as part of our levelling-up agenda, which will bring prosperity and jobs to every part of the UK.

Iain Stewart is a UK government minister for Scotland

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