Andrew Skinner: City Region Deals show the UK working

For the last few years, we have seen more and more City Region Deals being planned and put in place. What’s striking about these deals is they show how the UK can work when our politicians get on with the job.

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Now of course, the UK is far from perfect, but it’s certainly not the monster some nationalists claim it to be.

City Region Deals were introduced by the UK Government in 2011 as a way of encouraging local economic growth and the transfer of economic decision making away from central government.

What’s important to note here is that these City Region Deals and the funding that comes with them are being delivered for Scotland, and being delivered separately from the secured funding of the Barnett Formula. I believe that more should be made of this point, as it shows how the UK works for all its constituent parts.  

Most of the City Region Deals agreed so far focus not only on cities themselves but on the wider regions too.

Scotland now has four City Region Deals which have been negotiated and confirmed, with agreements in place for Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and now Edinburgh. Additional City Deals are on the table, including potential deals for Stirling, Tayside and Ayrshire and the local areas surrounding them. These deals represent a partnership of funding between the Scottish Government, UK Government, local government and regional partners - the way it should always be, working with each other rather than against each other.

Glasgow City Region Deal:

The Glasgow City Region Deal was agreed in 2014 and comprises of eight council areas (East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire). The Deal is currently the second-largest in the UK, with funding to be paid over a twenty-year period: 

  • £500m from the UK Government.
  • £500m From the Scottish Government.
  • £130m borrowed by the eight local authorities involved.
  • £18.8m from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, in addition to the main £500m allocation, to fund specific business, innovation and growth projects over three years.
  • An additional £4.8m from the Department of Work and Pensions to fund Employability schemes over three years.

 

Aberdeen City Region Deal:

The Aberdeen City Region Deal was agreed in November 2016 and includes two councils (Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire) and an economic leadership board called ONE (Opportunity North East). According to Aberdeen City Council’s website, the Deal is valued to be worth around £826m over a ten-year period:

  • UK Government £125m.
  • Scottish Government £125m.
  • Aberdeen City Council £10m.
  • Aberdeenshire Council £10m.
  • The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University £23.5m.
  • Private Sector £ 485m.
  • Other local economic partners £ 47m.

 

Inverness City Region Deal:

The Inverness and Highland City Region Deal was agreed in principle on January of this year. The deal includes a focus on improving digital connectivity across the region and includes a commitment of £315m of public funds over a 10-year period:

  • £53m from the UK Government.
  • £135m from the Scottish Government.
  • £127m from the Highland Council and regional partners.

 

Other City Region Deals, like the recently announced Edinburgh City Region Deal, follow similar funding structures as the three detailed above.

I think we can agree that these City Region Deals are evidence of how the UK is investing across Scotland (over and above the Barnett Formula), and how working together rather than constant constitutional wrangling benefits the people of Scotland. They are a perfect example of the UK and Scottish Government delivering for the good of Scotland. If both our governments continue to work together in future we will all benefit.

So to me at least, it’s abundantly clear that the SNP government should focus on such cooperation in future, rather than fighting constitutional battles with the UK Government.

That would be a way to truly be stronger for Scotland.

 

- Andrew Skinner

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