SCOTTISH seats held by Tory MPs have been granted Levelling Up funding by the Conservative government.

Moray, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, which are represented by Douglas Ross, Alister Jack and John Lamont respectively, were awarded millions of pounds for projects.

Three areas without Tory MPs received cash during this round, as Glasgow saw £15m awarded to the Drumchapel Town Centre Regeneration project, and South Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire secured funding.

It’s the third round of Levelling Up funding from the UK Government, with 55 projects across the UK awarded nearly £1 billion in total.

With the Tories behind in the polls, SNP president Michael Russell accused the party of effectively trying to buy votes.

“This is no longer Levelling Up, this is pure naked pork-barrel politics with public money being used to try and buy electoral advantage," he told The National.

“In many countries it is illegal. It should be illegal here. It is tantamount to using the public purse to try and prop up a government that is out of time, out of ideas and now has no shame left.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead was among those to question why his area, represented by Scottish Tory leader Ross at Westminster, had secured two lots of Levelling Up funding thus far when some areas haven't had any at all.

Dumfries and Galloway, represented by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, has also received multiple lots of funding.

“Moray deserves our fair share of this funding and there was a significant backlash when this bid was originally and inexplicably snubbed by the Tory UK government," MSP Lochhead said. "So I welcome the change of heart from UK ministers which is certainly good news for Elgin.

“The Levelling Up Fund was of course meant to replace EU funding which communities right across Moray benefitted hugely from through the years, with projects funded in every part of the region.

“So far, two major announcements by the UK Government have been directed at one Moray community and I suspect that won’t go unnoticed by our other towns and villages who need their fair share of these UK funds too.

“All money for Moray is welcome but many communities here are being let down by the UK Government as a direct result of them not replacing EU funds as they promised.”

The Scottish Parliament has previously spoken out about the funding scheme, which was founded to replace EU funding following Brexit. Under the new system, Westminster is able to administer cash directly to Scottish communities – prompting concern that devolution is being bypassed.

In 2021, MSPs agreed that the Levelling Up Fund was “infringing on the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament”. They expressed concern over the level of cash, warning that it doesn’t fully replace the money which previously came from the EU.

On Monday, former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford shared similar concerns – mentioning that his Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency had benefitted greatly from EU funding while Scotland was in the bloc.

The National: Ian Blackford

“Once again we’re getting nothing, zip all from this Tory government,” he said after no cash was made available for the Highlands or Islands.

Michael Shanks, the new Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, also expressed concern over the time and cost involved for local authorities applying for a share of the cash.

He asked Communities Minister Jacob Young: “Will he think about the total costs involved in that and reimburse those local authorities for those costs?”

The minister responded: “I can’t give refunds unfortunately but, as I say, the purpose of our funding simplification programme is all about ensuring that we step forward to a simpler version of funding that meets councils’ needs, rather than asking councils to meet the needs of various funding streams.”

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There was disappointed across the Irish Sea too, as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) complained that no cash was allocated to Northern Ireland despite “hundreds of suitable applications”.

The party’s Treasury spokesman Sammy Wilson said: “This is an outrageous act by the Government. Under the cloak of economic blackmail, the Government has syphoned money away from Northern Ireland to shore up Conservative seats in England.

“The Government’s rationale for this decision is as spurious as it is outrageous. An absence of an Executive has no material effect on the allocations indeed, the principal objection in Scotland and Wales to the Levelling Up Fund is that it is driven by Westminster rather than the devolved regions.

“The Government should be honest. The real reason for this allocation is to direct more money into the marginal seats in Great Britain where the Conservative Party is struggling.”

The Scottish projects to receive Levelling Up funding are as follows:

  • Dumfries and Galloway (with Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire) - Three Rivers Active Tourism Project -£22,809,416

  • Glasgow City - Drumchapel Town Centre Regeneration - £14,979,646

  • Dumfries and Galloway - Dumfries and Galloway Transport Bid - £13,752,000

  • Moray - Elgin City Centre Masterplan: Levelling Up Moray - £18,291,000

  • South Lanarkshire - National Business District: Shawfield - Remediation and Development - £14,637,600

  • North Ayrshire (with South Ayrshire) - Levelling Up For Ayrshire: Commercial and Low Carbon Infrastructure - £37,456,821

The National: Michael Gove said the measures would reduce the unacceptable numbers of people living in poor conditions (James Manning/PA)

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Levelling up means delivering local people’s priorities and bringing transformational change in communities that have, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued.

“Today we are backing 55 projects across the UK with £1 billion to create new jobs and opportunities, power economic growth and revitalise local areas.

“This funding sits alongside our wider initiatives to spread growth, through devolving more money and power out of Westminster to towns and cities, putting in place bespoke interventions to places that need it most, and our Long-Term Plan for Towns.”