THERE is no plan to determine the success of multi-billion pound city deals, a watchdog has warned.

The regional plans, which follow similar schemes in England, aim to boost local economies and involve local, Scottish and UK government, as well as other partner agencies.

The four signed to date – which take in the Glasgow City Region Deal, with similar agreements for Inverness and the Highlands, Edinburgh and south-east Scotland, and Aberdeen – are worth £5.2 billion, with another eight in the pipeline.

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A new report by the Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland said those in place are already helping.

However, it added the Scottish Government has not “set out how it will measure their long-term success, how it will know if deals are value for money”, or how deals will contribute to national targets – meaning some chances to meet goals “may have already been missed”.

Meanwhile, the rationale for funding some projects featured in the deals ahead of others is “not clear” and there is “very little involvement” for local communities, it is claimed.

The report, published today, said there are questions over what would happen if a deal went wrong.

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Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “A significant amount of public money has been committed to city deals, but the programme’s lack of aims and objectives means opportunities may already have been missed to ensure deals contribute to national outcomes. The Scottish Government needs to show how it will measure deals’ long-term success and work with councils to improve transparency around the approval process for individual projects.”

Graham Sharp, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “It’s important lines of accountability for deals are now made clearer and that the right staff are in place to develop and deliver deals at a time of considerable financial pressure for councils and the wider public sector.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie called city deals – initially set out under then-treasurer George Osborne – “opaque and directionless”. He added: “Scotland’s city and region deals need to stop financing failed old models of city planning like bypasses and flyovers and be re-profiled to prioritise efforts to lower emissions and build the sustainable, inclusive cities of the future.”

The Scottish Government said it would reflect on the findings with the UK Government and local authorities.

A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government’s commitment to deals now exceeds £1.8bn and we are already taking steps to improve how we measure the long-term success of our deals programme."