The SNP has slated the UK Government for bumping Tory held constituencies up a priority list for funding at the expense of some of the most deprived areas in the country.
According to the Treasury list of priority areas from Rishi Sunak’s budget, local authorities in South Ayrshire, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway have been ranked amongst those most in need of help from the UK Government fund.
The Dumfries & Galloway area is part of Scottish Secretary Alister Jack’s constituency and his predecessor David Mundell. The Borders seat at Westminster is held by Tory MP John Lamont.
The deprivation levels for the lowest three earning groups in the Borders is 10 per cent and in Dumfries & Galloway the deprivation levels are at 19 per cent.
But these Tory held areas have been given a higher funding priority than Clackmannanshire (40 per cent), West Lothian (30 per cent) and Fife (29 per cent).
The Tory priority list also ignores additional poverty-related criteria based on sparse rural populations meaning other areas, particularly the highlands and islands, also get bumped down the list.
The multi-million-pound fund will bypass the Scottish Government and will be sent to local authorities directly from Westminster.
And because Westminster is failing to provide as much money to Scotland as previously received from the EU prior to Brexit, every area – including Tory seats – will be worse off.
SNP Depute Leader and MSP for Clackmannanshire Keith Brown said: “This looks and smells like the most blatant example of Tory pork barrel politics to bolster support in the vanishingly few areas of Scotland where their callous policies have not yet been entirely rejected.
“Instead of allocating so-called ‘levelling up’ funds based on need, true to form the Tories have concocted a priority list which appears to cynically reward some areas ahead of others based on who votes Tory. If there is another explanation, Scotland needs to hear it.
“Every area deserves fair funding according to need and such mercenary patronage with public funds has no place in Scotland.
“It proves why the Tories at Westminster cannot be trusted with making spending decisions in Scotland. They simply look after their own.
“Scotland must have the right to decide our own future – with a Government of our own choosing – and not untrustworthy Tory Governments we don’t vote for led by the likes of Boris Johnson.”