Funding split for £395m deal short-changes Borders, according to MSP for region

Scottish Government transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson, centre, with UK Government ministers Jake Berry, left, and David Mundell at Glentress on Monday to sign off the deal.
Scottish Government transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson, centre, with UK Government ministers Jake Berry, left, and David Mundell at Glentress on Monday to sign off the deal.

This week’s £395m Borderlands deal short-changes both the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, according to Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame.

The Scottish National Party MSP claims that though the UK Government is putting up the lion’s share of funding for the initiative – its £265m contribution being more than three times as much as the £85m pledged by its Holyrood counterpart – most of that is earmarked to be spent south of the border.

That leaves Scotland £20m out of pocket, she reckons, but her sums are being disputed by Westminster’s Scotland Office, overseen by Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell.

By her reckoning, the UK Government is only committing £65m to projects this side of the border, with the other £200m of its stake being earmarked to be spent south of Carter Bar.

Ms Grahame said: “I was delighted to attend the signing of the deal at Glentress, and while this is a very welcome step in unlocking the potential of the south of Scotland, and in particular the Scottish Borders, to create new jobs and grow the local economy, it’s hard not to feel let down by the UK Government, who are once again selling Scotland short, by £20m.

“While it seems the SNP is the only party serious about jobs and investment, there’s still time for the Tories to raise their ambition and match the Scottish Government’s support for the region.

“People are getting fed up of the UK Government over-promising and under-delivering.

“That’s over £400m they now owe by underspending on growth deals – it’s time they paid up.”

A UK Government spokesperson hit back at Ms Grahame’s claims, however, saying: “There is no short-changing. All £1.36bn of the UK Government’s funding for city region and growth deals in Scotland is 100% over and above Scotland’s Barnett formula funding.

“Public spending in Scotland is £1,500 higher per person than the UK average, and every year Scotland benefits from £30bn of UK Government spending in reserved areas.”

A Scotland Office source added: “The UK Government is contributing £265m towards a £400m cross-border initiative where schemes will benefit the whole region.

“We are working in partnership with the Scottish Government, not in competition. It’s a pity some SNP MSPs have failed to grasp this.

“The real hard work of turning these exciting projects into reality starts now, and, sadly, playing politics will only hinder, not help, the process.”

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