Levelling up plans rejected by Scottish Government before being formally announced

Plans by the UK Government to radically close the income and prosperity gap between the richest and poorest areas in the UK have been rejected as “unacceptable” by the Scottish Government.

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Ministers flatly rejected the appropriateness of the UK Government deciding how to spend money in Scotland ahead of the publication of Downing Street’s ‘levelling up’ white paper today.

Michael Gove, levelling up secretary, is set to announce the details of Boris Johnson’s flagship policy at Westminster later today.

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As part of the plans, he will invite Nicola Sturgeon, as well as her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford and Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill from Northern Ireland, to take part in the project, calling for the four nations to work together in the same way as they did in the Covid vaccine roll out.

Michael Gove is set to announce details of the UK Government's 'levelling up' plans.Michael Gove is set to announce details of the UK Government's 'levelling up' plans.
Michael Gove is set to announce details of the UK Government's 'levelling up' plans.

In addition, the Glasgow city region is to be one of three new so-called ‘Innovation Accelerator’ areas, and will receive a share of £100 million of UK Government funding in a bid to encourage innovation and research and development work and boost local opportunities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has come under fire as a result of the “partygate” allegations, will attempt to divert attention from the ongoing saga by insisting the “defining mission” of his government is to “level up” the country so people have “access to the same opportunities” regardless of where in the UK they live.

The plans – which have already proven controversial when earlier pots of money such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund were announced – were criticised by the Scottish Government last night.

In a statement, a spokesperson said Scottish ministers were not consulted “in any way” around the plans for Glasgow, and labelled bypassing Holyrood in deciding where money is spent as “unacceptable”.

They said: “We welcome all additional funding for Scotland but it is unacceptable for the UK Government to again be deciding how money should be spent in areas of devolved responsibility without any meaningful consultation or engagement, despite continued assurances that relations will be reset with devolved governments.

“Similarly, we have not been consulted in any way on plans for an innovation accelerator in Glasgow.

“It is the Scottish Government that should decide how this policy and funding is delivered in Scotland, in line with the devolved settlement.

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“That position is supported by recent assessments from the House of Lords, the Scottish Affairs Committee and the Institute for Government on the need for the UK Government to engage the devolved governments in the design and delivery of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and related levelling up activity.”

A UK Government source said it was “deeply disappointing” to hear of the Scottish Government’s opposition to the plans prior to their announcement.

They said: “Instead of writing off ambitious plans before they have been published, plans which will create jobs while transforming lives and communities, Scottish ministers should focus on working together for the good of the people of Scotland.”

Michael Gove will present his levelling up white paper, which is understood to be a mixture of previous new cash announcements and fresh investment, to the House of Commons at around 1pm.

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