Deal or No Deal? There are significant issues with City Region Deals, says Holyrood Committee


There are significant issues with Scotland’s City Region Deals that must be addressed, according to a Holyrood Committee’s Deal or No Deal report.

In the report published today, the Local Government and Communities Committee recognises that these Deals are in their infancy but outlines a number of concerns on the economic growth projects.

City Region Deals, which have seen a £3.3 billion investment in Scotland so far, were first introduced by the UK Government in England, and extended to Scotland as a partnership with the Scottish Government, local authorities and other partners to boost jobs and grow regional economies

Some of the key findings include…

  • Local communities and businesses should be involved in City Region Deals in a meaningful way so they can help shape projects, and should not just be “informed after decisions have been made”.
  • There are “confused and cluttered” priorities between the UK Government, Scottish Government and local authorities. For example, investments made by the UK Government focus on purely economic and bottom-line benefits whereas the focus for the Scottish Government is inclusive growth.
  • Rural and remote areas – and towns not covered by City Region Deals – must not “miss out or lose out” against bigger cities. Other initiatives, such as the Ayrshire Growth Deal and the Borderlands Initiative, should not be seen as the poor cousin of City Region Deals.
  • The Glasgow City Region Deal is the most established Deal in Scotland and is currently under review. We recommend that other Deals learn from the Glasgow experience, so they don’t find themselves in the same situation in years to come.

Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said:

“We welcome the significant investment of £3.3 billion to create new jobs and build exciting and thriving areas around our major cities – some of which are in the most impoverished and deprived areas of Scotland.

“But it’s clear from the evidence we have heard and our Committee visits that there are significant issues with City Region Deals that must be addressed.

“That’s why we strongly recommend that all governments – national and local – work together and agree to a single focus, as a key priority should be maximising the benefits for local communities.”

Bob Doris MSP continues:

“While it’s still very early days in the City Region Deals lifespan, it’s not clear how other towns and the more rural and remote areas of Scotland will benefit from these Deals.

“There is also a risk that some parts of Scotland could miss out or lose out on the benefits that these projects may bring, and that other initiatives are treated as the poor cousin in comparison.

“In order for City Region Deals to be a success right across Scotland, we need clarity on when this initiative will be extended to all. As these Deals are in the early years of a 10-20 year programme of investment, our Committee will be keeping a close eye to check whether these improvements have been made and whether further action is required.”

Background and Notes to Editors

Find out more about the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee.

1. There are now four City Region Deals in Scotland that are in either the delivery stage or have reached outline approval. The current deals are focused on the cities of Glasgow (with £1.13 billion of public investment), Edinburgh (£1.1 billion), Aberdeen (£826 million) and Inverness (£315 million), and their surrounding regions. Two further deals for the cities of Stirling and Dundee, plus the wider areas in the central region and in Tayside, are being discussed.

2. Overall, 83 per cent—that is 4.5 million people—of Scotland's population live in the areas that are covered by existing or planned City Region Deals.

3. City Region Deals were first introduced by the UK Government in 2011 as a way of encouraging local economic growth and the movement of economic decision-making away from central government in England. They were extended to Scotland in 2014, starting in Glasgow.

4. Some of the projects planned within these Deals include:

  • A new £144m direct link between Glasgow Central Station and Glasgow Airport
  • £44m on a new country park, new business infrastructure and development, an enhanced road network and a new rail station in East Renfrewshire
  • £354m on a new Oil and Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen
  • £38m on a new Bio-Therapeutic Hub for Innovation as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal
  • £107m for the East Link and Longman Interchange in Inverness
  • Plans for £300m for world-leading data innovation centres as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal

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