SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has hit out at the UK Government after today’s announcement that the Western Isles are set to miss out on Levelling Up funding.
Earlier today, the UK Government announced £2.1 billion of funding through Round 2 of its Levelling Up Fund. This was purported to replace structural funding from the European Union which Scotland stopped benefitting from as a result of Brexit.
However, despite projects from relatively affluent parts of the UK getting the green light – including from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s own constituency – the Western Isles bids were not selected. Only one project in the Highlands and Islands, for Fair Isle in Shetland, will benefit from this funding round.
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“The Western Isles - and the Highlands and Islands in general – gained enormous and lasting benefits from EU Funding. The evidence of that is clear for all to see in the form of causeways, roads and other vital infrastructure.
“Today’s announcement is a real slap in the face. Given our location and issues with depopulation, the Western Isles should be top of the list. Instead, we find ourselves overlooked and short-changed.
“From the start, the Tories’ ‘levelling up agenda’ has been plagued with accusations of pork barrel politics and dodgy methodology. Otherwise affluent Tory-held areas have found themselves designated with priority status at the expense of places like the Western Isles. The UK Government also rode roughshod over the devolution settlement by completely cutting out the Scottish Government: despite these being devolved areas of responsibility.
“When they committed to match the EU structural funding programme, it was to be replaced by a programme that was ‘better tailored to our economy.’ It is now indisputable that means putting the narrow political interest of the Conservative party ahead of areas viewed as peripheral.”