Salvation Army criticises UK Government's levelling up plans in Scotland

Scotland’s most deprived communities are yet to see any funding from the UK Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, with the plans failing to tackle the basic needs of these parts of the country, the Salvation Army has said.

The charity, which works in some of the poorest communities in Scotland running food banks, homeless shelters, and helping individuals with debt, has called on the UK Government to reconsider how it allocates ‘levelling up’ funding.

It said key areas in Scotland, including six of the ten most deprived councils such as Dundee, Inverclyde, East Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire, have been overlooked by Michael Gove’s announcements.

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Michael Gove has been criticised for his 'levelling up' plans in Scotland
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The Salvation Army has also called for a new plan of investment to fund childcare to allow parents to access work and training opportunities, invest in skills and employment support to help people move out of low-skill and low-wage jobs, and for the UK Government to engage with communities to help identify where funding is needed.

The charity said any funding should focus closely on areas that rely heavily on low skilled and low-paid workers and those reliant on short-term seasonal workers.

They also said areas struggling with shrinking industries should also be targeted.

Major Ray Brown, the Salvation Army’s divisional leader for the west of Scotland, said: “Scotland has seen a huge increase in temporary short term seasonal jobs, primarily due to Covid having an impact on businesses, but as with many places across the UK there is a shortage of people either able to fulfil these roles or people who want to do entry-level work, which was previously done by EU nationals coming over for employment opportunities.”

Announcing his ‘levelling up’ white paper, Mr Gove told MPs the plans would “make opportunity more equal and to shift wealth and power decisively towards working people and their families”.

He based his plan around 12 national “missions” covering areas including economy, housing, education, transport and culture, with targets for dramatic improvements by 2030.

However, the SNP’s constitution spokesperson Tommy Sheppard backed the charity’s demands.

He said: "The Salvation Army rightly highlights that the UK Government has failed to address even the most basic problems that communities in Scotland are facing.

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"In a desperate attempt to solve problems that they themselves have created, the UK Government want to strip away powers from devolved governments and instead hand them all to Whitehall. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The UK Government said no bids were received from councils in Dundee, East Ayrshire or Inverclyde, and that several projects in areas highlighted by the Salvation Army had received cash from the Community Renewal Fund.

A spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up said: “We are investing £1.7 billion in projects to level up communities across Scotland, including funding for city and growth deals which cover all areas of the country.

“Scotland received £170 million from the Levelling Up Fund and successful bids were rigorously assessed and prioritised on need. Councils across Scotland will have further opportunities to bid this spring.

“We look forward to continuing to work with local authorities and the Scottish Government to discuss how best to work together to level up the whole of the United Kingdom.”

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