South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned the UK and Scottish Governments that the region must not be short changed over funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal.
The local MSP has released figures that show that growth deals in other parts of Scotland have been worth between £436 and £800 per person in the regions affected. With a population of over 1 million people across the Borderlands, that would mean an equivalent funding allocation of between £472 million and £865 million from the UK and Scottish Governments if the same level of support is made available for a Borderlands Growth Deal.
The comments come as the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposals were submitted by the five local authorities – Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council – last week. The proposals include redevelopment of the site at Chapelcross, near Annan and investment in the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in the Scottish Borders.
Colin Smyth said, “So far we have seen five growth deals across Scotland, which have been worth between £436 and £800 per person in the regions affected. It is vital that the UK and Scottish Governments match the ambition of the councils submitting the growth deal and deliver a similar level of funding to other areas. That would mean between £472million and £865 million being given to the Borderlands deal. Anything less from the UK and Scottish Government’s would mean our region being short changed and that just isn’t good enough”.
“It’s important to put the Growth Deal in perspective. The funding is a fraction of the cuts the local councils have been forced to make due to reduction in Government funding. Any Growth Deal would also be spread over ten years across five local authorities, so it isn’t going to tackle all the significant economic challenges we face. But it could make a real difference if the level of funding is fair and that means we must get the same level if support other parts of Scotland have received when the UK and Scottish Government’s announce their budgets later this year”
The Borderlands Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities in South Scotland and the North of England to promote economic growth and competitiveness of the area that straddles the Scotland-England border. The initiative was established following a report in 2013 entitled, ‘Borderlands: can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish Autonomy?’ The Councils have developed a series of projects as part of a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal for consideration by the Scottish and UK Governments.