Council continues to work with MPs and MSPs to be recognised as a priority area for UK funding
On 3 March the Chancellor set out details of the UK Levelling Up Fund and the UK Community Renewal Fund. A report to Council has set out the context to the funds, details lobbying activity being carried out in preparation for the Shared Prosperity Fund, and outlines the work being undertaken to submit bids to both funds before the first deadline set by UK Government of 18 June 2021.
Members agreed a number of recommendations including that the Council continues to lobby for a different methodology on the metrics to be used for the priority areas for the Shared Prosperity Fund, and that external analysis is carried out to strengthen the case in responding to the UK Government consultation proposed for later this year.
Bids will be prepared for the Levelling Up Fund and the Community Renewal Fund, recognising the need for large scale projects that can be delivered within the spend period and that fit with the criteria set by the UK Government.
An all Member workshop is set up prior to the bids being submitted, to report on progress and allow input to the detailed content of the bid submission and, given the challenging time frame, a report on the final bid submission is to be brought back to Council meeting on 24 June 2021 for homologation.
Following the announcement establishing the UK Levelling Up Fund and the Community Renewal Fund, Cllr Margaret Davidson , Leader of the Highland Council has been actively engaging with UK Government Ministers as well as working closely with Highland MPs to make the case that the metrics used in assessing the Highlands for these funds does not consider the unique circumstances of the Highlands, and that if these metrics were used for the future UK Prosperity Fund, then the Highlands would stand to lose a significant level of funding on an ongoing basis.
She said “We were shocked that Highland was not included in the priority areas and it is strange to say the least that a levelling up fund, ignores the area that is the most remote and rural in the country. However, I have had positive engagement with Ian Stewart, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office and very much appreciate the assistance from our MPs.
“I am relieved that there is to be a consultation on the metrics to be used for the future UK Prosperity Fund and believe that ministers understand our concerns. We have commissioned further economic analysis which we shall make available to the UK Government. I am hopeful that our ambitious bids, which will benefit communities across the Highlands, will be successful.”