Voters are being told that backing the Tories in next month’s local government elections will give parts of Scotland the “best shot” at winning extra funding from the UK Government.
The Scottish Conservatives said its councillors would “put in every possible bid” for cash from the UK Government Levelling Up and Community Renewal funds.
SNP ministers have raised concerns that by spending money directly in Scotland, Westminster is seeking to undermine devolution.
But Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, said: “More direct UK Government investment in Scotland can only be a good thing.
“The SNP can shout about power grabs all they like but what’s really important is the money reaches Scotland’s communities, not which Government is spending it.”
A total of £190 million of cash has gone to Scotland from the funds, the Tories said, with £172 million coming from bids made under the Levelling Up scheme and £18 million from the Community Renewal Fund.
The £190 million-plus of UK Government investment comprises £172 million for successful Levelling Up Fund bids, £18 million for successful Community Renewal Fund bids, with areas including Aberdeen, Falkirk, and Dumfries all having benefits.
Speaking ahead of a visit to the Crichton Trust in Dumfries, one of the beneficiaries of funding, Mr Ross said: “UK Government Levelling Up and Community Renewal funds have the potential to boost local economies, deliver jobs and rejuvenate communities across Scotland.”
He claimed some SNP-run councils “didn’t even bother to apply for these funds”, but added that “many nationalist-run administrations ignored the SNP Government’s rhetoric and submitted applications”.
He added: “Electing more Scottish Conservative councillors will give each local area the best shot at securing more investment for transformational projects.
SNP MP, Mhairi Black, however, urged Scots to vote for her party to elect “SNP councillors who will work tirelessly for communities, and to cast a verdict on Tory Government’s dire record and blatant power grab move”.
Ms Black said: “Beyond the Tory smoke and mirrors, the reality is that there is a litany of figures amounting to a staggering £5.46 billion exposing how Tory Westminster governments have form on short-changing Scotland.
“When it comes to Levelling Up funding, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove led a Brexit campaign that promised £1.5 billion a year for Scottish devolved services when the UK left the EU.
“Instead all we have heard announced is £172 million. To put that in context, for every £1 they promised they’ve given 11 pence – Scotland has been short-changed by 89%.”
She added: “This Westminster Tory Government has presided over a series of power grabs and attacks on devolution – seeking to bypass the devolved Governments and dictate spending over devolved areas.
“And it’s clear that rather than standing up for Scotland’s communities and interests, the Scottish Tories are more interested in falling into line behind their Westminster bosses and selling out Scotland.”