RISHI Sunak announced a number of funding pledges for Scotland today in a move likely to provoke a major constitutional row.

Under the devolution settlement, Scotland receives a block grant every year and Holyrood ministers decide how to spend it on devolved matters.

Devolved administrations will be given the “largest block grants” since 1998, according to the Chancellor, with an increase to Scottish Government funding in each year rising by an average of £4.6 billion. 

On top of that, in today’s Budget announcement, Sunak appeared to bypass the Scottish Parliament with the accompanying documents pledging direct cash for places and issues which would usually be under Holyrood’s control.

Chancellor Sunak announced there would be £172 million in total for eight projects as part of the Levelling Up Fund.

These are:

-The development of Inverness Castle

-A new marketplace in Aberdeen City Centre

-A direct route between Glasgow and the Three Towns in north Ayrshire

-Transforming Pollok Stables and Sawmill in Glasgow to a net-zero heritage centre

-Redeveloping Granton Waterfront

-Upgrading Westfield Roundabout, Falkirk

-Remodelling the Artizan Shopping Centre in West Dunbartonshire

-Connecting the “Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District” to Paisley, Renfew and Inchinnan

The documents also detail a community ownership fund of £1.07bn to go to five projects in Whithorn, Inverie, New Galloway, Kinloch Rannoch and Callendar.

Further announcements included £1.9bn for farmers and land managers in Scotland, £42m for fisheries, expanding Edinburgh’s trade and investment hub, a £150m investment fund and up to £3m to “boost Glasgow’s cultural offer”.

Prior to today’s Budget, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes had written to the Chancellor urging him to ensure he had devolved support before approving direct funding or passing over Holyrood.

The National:

It had been suspected that Westminster would spend in devolved areas following the passing of the Internal Market Bill. The controversial legislation allows the UK Government to fund devolved matters in the wake of Brexit, replacing funding that may otherwise have come from the EU.

“Aside from being a profound departure from the existing devolution settlement, it introduces considerable additional uncertainty to future devolved funding and fundamentally alters the devolution landscape,” Forbes warned.

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“I ask for assurance that the powers will not be used without the prior consent of the Devolved Governments, and for clarity on how decisions on use of IMA financial assistance powers will be made, and under what circumstances.

“Without this it is difficult to see how the principles of consent, transparency, and stability and predictability espoused in the Statement of Funding Policy can be met. Moreover, it risks poor value for money as a result of incoherent policy and disjointed spending decisions.”

This afternoon Forbes issued a full statement on the Budget, expressed she was "disappointed but not surprised".

The Finance Secretary said that the centralised approach to Levelling Up means "ignoring the views of governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland".

She went on: "It means that money Scotland would have previously received under the seven-year EU Structural Fund programmes to spend according to its own needs will now be distributed annually according to a UK Government agenda. This approach potentially leaves Scotland worse off, raises value for money concerns and undermines devolution."

Giving his take on the announcements, SNP Westminster leader In Blackford said:  "No amount of smoke and mirrors can disguise the fact that the UK Budget has short-changed Scotland, and left millions of families hundreds of pounds worse off next year due to Tory cuts, tax hikes and the soaring cost of Brexit.

"Under the Tories, the UK has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in north west Europe and the highest levels of in-work poverty this century. Yet, this Budget did nothing to tackle the Tory cost of living crisis. The piecemeal measures won't even offset Tory Universal Credit cuts, National Insurance hikes or rising inflation, let alone boost incomes.

The National:

"The Tory government has short-changed Scotland by billions of pounds. It has broken its pledge to invest in Scottish carbon capture projects, failed to match the Scottish Government's £500million just transition fund, failed to fully replace EU funding for Scottish local authorities, and failed to compensate Scotland for the damage of Brexit.

"It beggars belief that the Tories expect us to be grateful even though they are making families poorer and robbing Scotland of investment."