Richard Lochhead, the Scottish employment minister, accused the UK government of failing to honour its pledge to restore lost EU cash in full ahead of a Scottish parliamentary discussion on Wednesday afternoon.
Boris Johnson’s administration said earlier this month that money will be sent to devolved nations to compensate for lost EU funds. The Government’s “primary purpose to level up the entirety of the UK” included the Shared Prosperity Fund, which was used to distribute funds.
However, Scottish authorities, as well as Welsh and Northern Irish officials, were eager to point out that the money was significantly less than what was owed.
According to one senior SNP source, the Government has only allocated around a fifth of the money it pledged.
Scottish Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “The UK Government promised that Scotland would not lose out as a result of Brexit, as lost EU funding would be replaced in full through its UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
“In order to fulfil this promise, the Scottish Government estimates that £183million per year would be needed to replace the various streams of EU funding.
“In its first three years, the UK Government has allocated only £212million through the UKSPF. This is only 39% of the required £549million replacement amount.”
The SNP claimed that the UK government would have to pay an additional £337 million to fulfil its commitments.
Mr Lochhead noted that Whitehall’s inability to let the devolved government select where the cash flowed exacerbated the matter.
He, quoted in GB News, said: “For more than two years we have called on the UK Government to ensure Scottish Government ministers could shape and align this new fund, sharing across a broad spectrum of groups, as was done with European funding.
“Instead, the UK Government is the sole decision-maker for how this funding is used.”
The Government has, however, rejected claims it is leaving Scotland short-changed, with one source, quoted in the Press and Journal, insisting: “The SNP are trying to turn this into a phoney row about numbers.”
The Shared Prosperity Fund will replace all EU structural money, according to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.
He added this “will also get rid of the EU bureaucracy which has previously hampered getting funds into communities”.
Mr Jack said: “The Shared Prosperity Fund is in addition to the UK Government’s £171million investment in Scotland through levelling-up funds, and our £1.5billion in Scotland’s growth deals.”
Despite this, the SNP has continued to cite the UK’s exit from the EU as a justification for a second independence referendum in Scotland.
SNP Commons leader Ian Blackford said earlier this week that Brexit was “at the foundation” of Scotland’s present challenges, particularly concerns over rising living costs.
Ms Sturgeon is pressing for a referendum in 2023, but the Prime Minister has rebuffed the idea.