UK Government urged to match £85 million funding for Borderlands
Philip Hammond has been urged to match the Scottish Government’s pledge to invest £85 million in the Borderlands over the next decade.
The Chancellor will announce his Spring Statement on Wednesday, with Scotland’s Infrastucture Secretary Michael Matheson calling on him to agree to an equal investment in the region.
The growth deal is the first cross-border deal of its kind, bringing together five cross-border local authorities – Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, and Northumberland County Council.
Specific projects and activities to be supported by the funding are expected to be announced over the coming months, under a ‘Heads of Terms’ agreement.
The Scottish Government has suggested that its funding will help boost economic development across areas such as digital connectivity, tourism, regeneration and skills.
Mr Hammond has previously indicated UK Government support for a growth deal, with discussions taking place between both governments.
Mr Matheson said: “I am delighted to confirm that the Scottish Government is investing up to £85 million in the Borderlands Deal to support and develop the South of Scotland economy.
“Alongside the establishment of a new enterprise agency for the south of Scotland, and the activity being taken forward by the South of Scotland economic partnership, this investment will help to drive inclusive growth that delivers significant and lasting economic benefits for individuals, businesses and communities right across the region.
“I call on the UK Government to match our financial commitment, over the same timescale of ten years, to deliver a package of transformational investment that will harness the region’s full economic potential.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “The Borderlands Growth Deal will bring transformative change to the region and we expect to announce further progress very soon.
“The UK Government’s commitment will be based on our assessment of the projects that have come forward, not on arbitrary challenges.
“It is essential for the future of the Growth Deals programme – which has already seen the UK Government commit more than £1.3 billion across Scotland – that partners continue to work collaboratively.”