Tell us where the money’s com­ing from

MP’s fears over vi­tal EU re­place­ment funds

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor John Fer­gu­son

An MP has de­manded Tory min­is­ters come clean over the fu­ture of Euro­pean funds worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds to Scot­land.

The Euro­pean Struc­tural and In­vest­ment Funds ( ESIF) have sup­ported dozens of projects which tackle poverty and pro­mote so­cial in­clu­sion over the last five years.

But it re­mains un­clear how the UK Gov­ern­ment plan to re­place the scheme post-Brexit, de­spite prom­ises of a con­sul­ta­tion last year.

SNP MP Drew Hendry said: “It’s out­ra­geous that, two- and- a- half months be­fore Brexit, de­tails of vi­tal fu­ture fund­ing are yet to come to fruition.

“The Euro­pean Struc­tural and In­vest­ment Funds have al­lowed the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to di­rectly tackle key is­sues such as im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture and ad­dress­ing un­em­ploy­ment across Scot­land.

“To re­place this with a sys­tem cent ra l ised in West­min­ster would be ut­terly un­ac­cept­able. It’s yet an­other sign of a Tory Brexit power grab a ga ins t the de­volved gov­ern­ments. As the To­ries take us ever closer to­wards the Brexit cliffedge, the UK Gov­ern­ment must give im­me­di­ate clar­ity on their plans and give a cast- iron guar­an­tee that con­trol over fund­ing post- Brexit re­mains with Holy­rood.” Hendry has also writ­ten to Tory Com­mu­ni­ties Min­is­ter James Bro­ken­shire to de­mand an­swers. Hun­dreds of projects across Scot­land benef it from EU struc­tural money, in­clud­ing busi­nesses and re­search projects through the Euro­pean Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund and de­prived ar­eas through the Euro­pean So­cial Fund. A to­tal of £379mil­lion has been in­vested in 188 projects since 2014.

Scot­land has also ben­e­fited from sci­ence fund­ing from the EU’s Hori­zon 2020 scheme, as well as money from other EU sources in­clud­ing Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy fund­ing for farm­ers.

The cash pots are cre­ated from a bud­get which in­cludes the money the UK has paid into the EU each year up un­til now.

Projects given huge grants in­clude the Scot­tish Fund­ing Coun­cil’s Youth Em­ploy­ment Ini­tia­tive, which re­ceived £27,954,619.

The UK Gov­ern­ment an­nounced a suc­ces­sor to ESIF – dubbed the UK Shared Pros­per­ity Fund – last year.

A spokesman said: “We recog­nise the im­por­tance of re­as­sur­ing com­mu­ni­ties on the fu­ture of lo­cal growth fund­ing. We have con­tin­ued to make great progress on the de­sign of the UKSPF, ahead of con­sul­ta­tion.”

But Anna Fowlie, of the Scot­tish Coun­cil for Vol­un­tary Or­gan­i­sa­tions, has pre­vi­ously crit­i­cised the UK Gov­ern­ment on the is­sue.

She said: “Their track record sug­gests they are more in­ter­ested in Eng­land’s pri­or­i­ties.”

DE­MAND Hendry

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