Borderlands receive £260m to boost economy

14 Mar 19

The government is to invest £260m in a deal to boost the economy of the Borderlands as part of the chancellor’s Spring Statement.

The commitment followed an allocation of £85m yesterday – before the chancellor announced the Spring Statement - by the Scottish Government in the Borderlands Growth Deal, which covers Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria and Carlisle City.

The funding will support economic development across the region, including digital connectivity, tourism, regeneration and skills.

Philip Hammond said the funding would “strengthen the deep ties” that bound the border communities.

“On top of the £102m announced recently for the Carlisle Southern Link Road from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, this means up to £362m of UK government investment into the Borderlands area,” he said.

Scottish secretary David Mundell said the investment would be “transformational” in the long term for Borders communities.

The chancellor also announced a £79m investment in the Archer2 supercomputer to be hosted at Edinburgh University as part of a drive to maintain the UK’s technological edge.

But Scottish Government public finance minister Kate Forbes said the chancellor’s spending plans were “a drop in the ocean” compared to the harm that would be caused by Brexit.

“Amid the continuing uncertainty around the UK’s EU exit, the Spring Statement failed to provide businesses with any reassurances about their future and offered no clarity on future funding for Scotland,” she said.

“Years of austerity and continued uncertainty at the hands of the UK government is impacting on business investment in Scotland right now and causing unnecessary harm to some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.”

A report last month from the Scottish Government’s chief economist predicted that the Scottish economy could shrink by up to 7% this year if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.  

“While it is welcome that the chancellor recognises the strategic importance of Edinburgh University and the need to invest in the Borderlands deal, there is much more that could have been delivered today,” said Forbes.

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