THE UK Government has been slated for disregarding Levelling Up bids from Scotland’s poorest areas in the latest round of funding.

It has emerged five of the least well-off districts in Scotland – according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) – received no grants at all in the second tranche of scheme that was supposed to replace EU funding.

Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Clackmannanshire, West Dunbartonshire and North Ayrshire were not awarded any money and just 10 Scottish projects out of 111 across the UK were successful.

Meanwhile, the London borough of Sutton received £14.1 million to improve train services and Rishi Sunak’s constituency of Richmond in North Yorkshire got £19m to transform a town centre.

Ministers have also been criticised for not making it clear councils that received cash in the first round would not get any in the second round, with the First Minister stressing this week councils had wasted their time forking out money to apply again.

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Renfrewshire Council covers some of the most deprived parts of Scotland including the Ferguslie area of Paisley and parts of Renfrew and Johnstone, according to the SIMD.

Despite receiving £38.7m in the first round to improve travel links between the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland and Paisley and Renfrew, no money was forthcoming in the second round despite the council bidding to construct a new health and learning hub in Renfrew.

Council leader Iain Nicolson said the fund’s rules were “unclear”.

He said: “Its disappointing that a fantastic project in Renfrew didn’t receive any funding form this round of Levelling Up. However, we also believe that the rules were unclear in that it wasn’t explicit in the round two applications that if you received funding in round one you wouldn’t receive funding in round two.

The National: Iain Nicolson, leader of Renfrewshire CouncilIain Nicolson, leader of Renfrewshire Council (Image: Supplied)

“The Renfrew project Renfrew Victory Baths and Old Police Station is a great project that we are continuing to progress and we continue to seek the funding to make it happen.”

The project would have refurbished the former police station and the Victory Baths and provided a top-class facility for the town and community.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said the lack of guidance from the UK Government was “outrageous” and branded the cashpot as a “slush fund for Tory seats”.

He added: “The lack of guidance from the UK Government surrounding round two bids and retrospectively deciding that local authorities successful in round one should miss out is outrageous and has led to several authorities investing time and resources into bid which were never going to be seriously considered.

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“Levelling Up funding was originally sold as the replacement for EU funding as we got dragged out of Europe against our will. But a quick look at the list of successful applications shows it's mainly just a slush fund for Tory seats, with a few token exceptions.”

Affluent areas benefit more

Some of the areas which were successful in the latest round of funding included Aberdeenshire (£20m), East Lothian (£11m), Shetland (£26m subject to a further business case review), and Dumfries and Galloway (£17m), all largely made up of affluent towns and villages according to the SIMD.

West Dunbartonshire Council also received funding in the first round to redevelop Dumbarton town centre, but its latest bid to create a transport hub in Clydebank was rejected by the Tory government.

The National: Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West DunbartonshireMartin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire (Image: Newsquest)

The area’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said it was clear to him that the UK Government only cares about supporting wealthier areas.

He added: “I am angry that the application for Levelling Up funding to create a transport hub in Clydebank was rejected by the Tory government in favour of projects in wealthier council areas in England.

“For all their talk of using Levelling Up funding to reduce the imbalances between areas and social groups, it is clear the Tories don’t give a damn about areas such as Clydebank and West Dunbartonshire and are only interested in supporting wealthier areas that elect Tory MPs.”

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A UK Government spokesperson said: “Since the launch of the Levelling Up Fund, we have provided more than £3.8 billion of funding to support over 200 projects that will benefit millions of people across the whole United Kingdom.

“Our decision-making criteria, published last year, made clear that ministers could take into account other investment in local areas, including grants from the first round of the fund, to encourage a spread of funding across more areas.  Only when all bids had been received, and their quality known, could decisions be taken to achieve this.

The National:

“In this round, we received over 500 proposals with a total value of £8bn and our aim was spread opportunity from our £2.1bn of funding as far as possible.

“There will be a further round of the Levelling Up Fund. Before this launches, we will support those bidders who were unsuccessful as we did in the first round, including by providing feedback, to refine their proposals and prepare for the next round.”