THE SNP have criticised the UK Government for its "naked power grab plans" after it confirmed moves to bypass devolved parliaments and take control of funding in devolved areas.

It comes after the Treasury announced that its Levelling Up Fund would let Westminster dictate funding over key areas – such as regeneration and transport – rather than passing on Barnett consequentials to the devolved governments. Had the £4.8 billion fund been added to Barnett formula funding then the Scottish Government would have received around £400 million to spend on Scotland's priorities. 

Under the plan, Westminster will pick projects they want to spend money on in devolved areas like high street regeneration, local transport and heritage projects.

Commenting, the SNP's Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: "The Tory government's move to bypass the devolved governments and dictate spending over devolved areas is yet another sign of its naked power grab plans.

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"Rather than passing on funding through Barnett consequentials – which could have seen Scotland receiving its share totalling around £400m – the Tories are intent on dismantling devolution and taking control, with absolutely no clarity over how much will be spent in Scotland.

"It is utterly shameful that the Treasury is promoting its Levelling Up Fund not long after it cut Scotland's capital budget at the Spending Review by 5% – leaving Scotland to deal with the challenges posed by Covid and Brexit with one hand tied behind our back.

"Throughout the Brexit process, the Westminster Tory government has left the devolved governments and councils in the dark over crucial post-Brexit funding. In fact, the only areas where it has offered any clarity are the areas where it is quite clear they are intending on spending money in devolved areas.

"The funding for Scotland should be passed to the Scottish Government to administer on behalf of the people of Scotland. 

"It's clear beyond any doubt that the only way to properly protect our interests and Parliament is to become an independent country. 

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"The issue at the heart of the Scottish election in May will be this: who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic – the people of Scotland or Boris Johnson? Scotland's future should be in Scotland's hands – not Boris Johnson's."

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “We are committed to levelling-up opportunities right across the United Kingdom so that all communities can benefit from our future prosperity.

“Our levelling-up fund will back local projects to improve everyday life for millions of people and we look forward to working with all areas to boost local economies."
“By extending the levelling-up fund to be UK-wide, we are ensuring that no community in the United Kingdom is left behind.”

The Levelling Up Fund was first announced at the Spending Review and will run from 2021/22 to 2024/25.