Colin Smyth MSP
South Scotland Labour MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Connectivity and Transport Colin Smyth fears that expected funding from the Scottish and UK Government for the Borderlands Growth Deal could leave the area short changed.
The Scottish Government have informed the media they plan to allocate just £85million to the deal over the next ten years. In the Spring Statement today the UK Government committed £260 million to the Borderlands Growth Deal.
This funding falls short of the more than £400 million the Borderlands councils requested to deliver the planned projects and would mean an allocation of £319 per person living in the Borderlands area, at a time other parts of Scotland with similar deals have seen allocations of between £436 and £800 per person.
With a population of over 1 million people across the Borderlands, a similar funding allocation as the rest of Scotland would have meant between £472 million and £865 million from the UK and Scottish Governments for the Borderlands Growth Deal.
In yet another example of the failure of the two Government’s to work together on the proposals, the Scottish Government have chosen to announce funding separately and challenge the UK Government to match their allocation, rather than the normal practise of a joint announcement.
Commenting on the announcement, Colin Smyth said, “Having been involved in the Borderlands initiative since the beginning I’m pleased that at last we are seeing a commitment of funding from Government. However, it is disappointing that the Borderlands are being short-changed and as result it won’t be possible to deliver all the projects in the planned timescale. The funding is less than the amount requested by the Borderlands partners. Had our area been treated the same as other growth deal areas we would have received between £472million and £865 million from both the UK and Scottish Governments. The funding is spread over ten years across five councils, so it isn’t going to tackle all the significant economic challenges we face and it comes at a time those councils will have to cut their own budgets. But the partners will put a brave face on the announcement to avoid rocking the boat and now that they know the funding allocations, hopefully they can get on with delivering as many of the projects as they can.”
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.