Two year wait

Ministers ‘left in dark’ over EU fund replacement

Ivan McKee

Ivan McKee: Westminster ‘has failed to engage meaningfully with the devolved nations’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Government ministers are still awaiting clarification on how a proposed replacement for European Structural Funds will work – two years after it was proposed.

The ESF, which has provided £5.6 billion to Scotland, will not be available from the turn of the year as Britain finally leaves the EU.

A new Scottish Shared Prosperity Fund (SSPF) is due to be established as part of a UK-wide replacement, but two years after being announced there is no detail on how it will operate.

Trade Minister Ivan McKee said he expects the UK Government to transfer full control over replacement funding to the Scottish Government as the EU transition period ends.

Mr McKee said: “EU Structural Funds have been key to Scotland’s economic development over the past 40 years, investing more than £5.6 billion into a wide range of projects.

“Since the UK Government announced its intention to establish a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to replace these funds in 2018, it has failed to engage meaningfully with the devolved nations, providing no detail on how such a fund might work, how much funding will be available and what it will fund in future.

“Scottish Ministers and officials continue to try to engage with the UK Government to secure the information needed to plan for the future.

“However, the Scottish Government has also sought to develop a position on future funding priorities to ensure Scotland’s distinctive needs and priorities are met. 

“The proposals we are publishing today for a Scottish Shared Prosperity Fund have been produced following 12 months of consultation and with the support of an expert Steering Group.

“We will now go on to develop the Fund involving key partners, especially local authorities. And we will continue to press the UK Government for full replacement of all lost EU funds – Scotland must receive at least £1.283 billion for a replacement seven year programme for 2021 – 2027.

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“We also expect full control over replacement funding to be given to Scotland. Ongoing attempts by the UK Government to undermine the devolution settlement in relation to powers and funding in this area will continue to be resisted vigorously.”

The paper setting out proposals for the SSPF has been produced following 12 months of extensive consultation with stakeholders around Scotland and with the support of an expert Steering Group, co-chaired by Professor David Bell of University of Stirling and Professor John Bachtler of University of Strathclyde.

It is thought the UK Government may announce details of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as part of next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

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