Brexit has led to more un­cer­tainty

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane -

Just over a month af­ter the EU Ref­er­en­dum and, whilst the full im­pact of UK de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union is still sink­ing in for politi­cians, for many or­gan­i­sa­tions that de­pend on EU fund­ing there is great un­cer­tainty.

The ex­tent to which we ben­e­fit may not be ap­par­ent as we go about our daily lives, but many things we take for granted have only been pos­si­ble with the help of EU fund­ing over the past 25 years, es­pe­cially in ar­eas like La­nark­shire where tra­di­tional in­dus­tries have de­clined or dis­ap­peared al­to­gether.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil have utilised Euro­pean Re­gional Devel­op­ment Funds for many projects in the area. A good ex­am­ple is the £235,000 re­ceived to help with the St Bride’s Com­mu­nity Group Cen­tre Project in 2010.

Clyde Gateway have also suc­cess­fully bid for EU funds for a va­ri­ety of projects, in­clud­ing the Red Tree small busi­ness suites in Ruther­glen.

Whit­law­burn Com­mu­nity En­ergy project re­ceived £2.3 mil­lion to pro­vide ten­ants with low car­bon heat­ing and lower en­ergy bills. South La­nark­shire Col­lege re­ceived £700,000 to help build a new low car­bon teach­ing fa­cil­ity and the col­lege has ac­cessed Euro­pean So­cial Fund monies over many years to of­fer a va­ri­ety of vo­ca­tional cour­ses, such as child­care, con­struc­tion, IT and of­fice skills to help peo­ple into work.

All of this is now at risk if Scot­land is pulled out of the EU against its will, as the UK gov­ern­ment re­fuses to guar­an­tee sim­i­lar fund­ing will be avail­able post Brexit.

Con­cerns about this fund­ing un­cer­tainty were raised by sev­eral higher ed­u­ca­tion, busi­ness and vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions at a re­cent event I at­tended run by the In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Pol­icy Re­search.

At the event First Min­is­ter, Ni­cola Stur­geon, gave a speech about Scot­land’s op­tions for re­tain­ing our Euro­pean sta­tus, not only to en­sure our ac­cess to the EU Sin­gle Mar­ket, but also to the many ben­e­fits that EU fund­ing brings to our ur­ban and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

Against a back­drop of real detri­ment to our econ­omy: a weak pound, low in­ter­est rates, the ef­fect on pen­sions and sav­ings, low wage growth and the threat to work­ers’ rights, the First Min­is­ter set out five ar­eas where the gov­ern­ment would be work­ing to en­sure that Scot­land’s in­ter­ests were pro­tected in any UK wide Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tion dis­cus­sions.

Our demo­cratic in­ter­est – re­main­ing in the EU was the choice of the Scot­tish elec­torate.

Our eco­nomic in­ter­est – al­most half of our ex­ports go to the EU. Main­tain­ing our place within the sin­gle mar­ket is im­por­tant.

Our fi­nan­cial ser­vices ben­e­fit from EU mem­ber­ship.

Our ru­ral econ­omy ben­e­fits from EU pay­ments and our uni­ver­si­ties from re­search fund­ing.

Grow­ing our pop­u­la­tion is vi­tal to boost our econ­omy, so free move­ment of peo­ple is cru­cial.

Our in­ter­est in so­cial pro­tec­tion – work­ers’ rights, health and safety pro­tec­tion, safe lim­its on work­ing hours, hol­i­day and ma­ter­nity en­ti­tle­ments are all pro­tected un­der EU law. They may be se­ri­ously at risk if left to the de­vices of a right wing UK Tory gov­ern­ment.

Our in­ter­est in sol­i­dar­ity – work­ing to­gether with other na­tions to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, on cli­mate change pol­icy and against the threat of crime and ter­ror­ism.

And, lastly, our in­ter­est in hav­ing in­flu­ence. Ni­cola pointed out that we could end up in a po­si­tion where we have to abide by all the rules of the sin­gle mar­ket, and pay to be part of it, but have no say what­so­ever in what the rules are. That would be giv­ing up con­trol, not tak­ing it back.

If these in­ter­ests are not re­spected in the forth­com­ing UK ne­go­ti­a­tions the First Min­is­ter warned: “it will be peo­ple who pay the price in real life if jobs, in­vest­ment and liv­ing stan­dards suf­fer as a re­sult.”

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment does not in­tend to let that hap­pen.

Many things we take for granted have only been pos­si­ble with EU fund­ing

Fund­ing Red Tree Busi­ness suites were cre­ated with the help of EU cash

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