THE City Region and Growth Deals programme is essential for Scotland and the UK to build back better and greener from the devastating impact of Covid-19.

With the signing of the Ayrshire deal this week, the UK Government has reached another important milestone in delivering its £1.5 billion boost to regional economies in every part of Scotland.

This was the sixth deal to be finalised in Scotland and means more than 75 per cent of the population is now covered. We are backing a huge range of projects, large and small, that will revitalise local economies and generate tens of thousands of jobs.

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The investment includes support for clean and renewable energy; world-leading research in AI, robotics and forensics; and new advanced manufacturing and aerospace clusters.

Bold, ambitious plans such as these will boost our economy and create jobs for the future. Our investment, along with that of partners, is estimated to be leveraging a further £10 billion of private sector funding. All of this money is crucial as there is no doubt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for years to come. 

That’s why from the outset the UK Government has sought to support and protect livelihoods. In Scotland our furlough scheme has supported one in three jobs, 157,000 self-employed people have received £777 million in grants and more than £2.9 billion of loans have helped 79,000 businesses. The UK Treasury is also providing the Scottish Government with an additional £8.2 billion to provide tailored support to Scotland’s individuals, businesses and public services.  

In households across Scotland, naturally, there is great uncertainty about the future: How quickly will we recover?  

Where will there be secure work?  

What opportunities will there be for our children?

We have a huge opportunity to do things differently.  

We can set about rebuilding our economy so it is more innovative, more inclusive and stronger than it was before.  

But this will only be possible if all parts of government work together with a shared ambition to ensure every part of our country thrives.  

We have already shown this is possible. For the past six years the UK and Scottish Government have been working together with local authorities on City Region Deals and Growth Deals to boost infrastructure and connectivity, supporting the development of Scotland’s industries. 

And throughout the pandemic we have continued to make significant progress on this front.  Over the summer we announced funding for the Falkirk and Islands Growth Deals, fulfilling our commitment to bring deals to every part of Scotland. 

In August we agreed the Heads of Terms for a Moray Growth Deal, and this week I signed the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

Other regional deals already finalised and delivering include Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling, and the Highlands. These deals are having a real impact.  

Earlier this month Medicity Glasgow, a life sciences incubator and accelerator, announced it has raised £26 million in private investment and helped create 200 new jobs at 70 new companies.

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When the remaining six deals covering the Tay region,  Borderlands, Moray, Argyll and Bute, Falkirk and the Islands are concluded, 100 % of Scotland’s population will be covered, delivering project investment worth £880 for each and every person in Scotland.  

Despite the successes there remains room to do much more and we need the Scottish Government to match our ambition. New opportunities will open up thanks to our UK Internal Market Bill, now going through Parliament. The legislation will ensure our vitally important UK market continues to operate as it does now, free from damaging barriers to trade, after we leave the Brexit transition period. 

It also allows the UK Government to invest directly in policy areas such as transport in Scotland. We want Scotland to be better connected with the rest of the UK – not least because that’s our biggest market with 60%  of our “exports” going to our neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

To achieve that, the Prime Minister has announced a Union Connectivity Review to examine how we could improve key routes.

When the Brexit transition period ends, we will regain control of funds that are spent here by the EU. Our Shared Prosperity Fund will enable us to spend on our own priorities in Scotland, not Brussels’ priorities.

And yet some Scottish politicians have criticised the UK Government’s plans for further investment in Scotland, seeing a clear threat to their separatist agenda.  I believe any and all investment in Scotland should be welcomed and encouraged.    

We face a complex journey ahead of us, and it will take effort and innovation to solve. We cannot afford to be distracted by divisive arguments and posturing.  

The Scottish public expects us to work together, and I am committed to making sure every community thrives in the years ahead.

Alister Jack MP is the Secretary 
of State for Scotland.