The UK Government refused calls to give extra cash to Aberdeen and Inverness during behind-the-scenes talks that led to City Region Deals, it has been claimed.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown suggested yesterday that the Scottish Government “sought to go further” on the lucrative packages, but that Westminster “reined back on that”.
Signed in 2016, the UK and Scottish governments provided £125 million each towards the Aberdeen City Region Deal, with the Scottish Government promising to contribute a further £245 million towards delivering improved transport, broadband and housing programmes.
Meanwhile, the Inverness City Region Deal last year included a commitment of £135 million from the Scottish Government and £53 million from the UK Government.
At the Scottish Parliament’s local government committee yesterday, Mr Brown was asked about the combined £300 million difference in the contributions of the two governments towards Scottish City Deals.
The SNP minister said there had been a “changing story” from the first package, for Glasgow, which involved an equal split in investment between Holyrood and Westminster.
And he claimed that the UK Government’s contribution had “not met the expectations of partners in terms of the quantum”.
“I think in some of the City Deals, we have sought to go further and the UK Government has reined back on that and they are entitled to do that,” he said.
“We have tried to nevertheless go beyond that, very substantially in relation to the Aberdeen deal, in relation to the Inverness deal and now in relation to the Stirling and Clacks deal.”
Mr Brown added: “It’s self-evident from the way we have tried to construct the deals, we’ve tried to get a larger quantum.
“Where we feel they haven’t gone long enough, far enough, we have agreed that deal on the basis of 50-50 and then we have sought to go further than that ourselves and that accounts for some of the difference. We would have liked the UK Government to have gone further.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “It is nonsense to say we have not met the expectations of City Deal partners.
“So far, the UK Government has committed more than £1 billion to the programme in Scotland, agreeing deals with five city regions, with two more under negotiation. Discussions are also underway on Growth Deals for a number of areas.
“This huge investment is in addition to the block grant that we provide the Scottish Government.”