Lack of engagement on prosperity fund “counterproductive”.
Investment Minister Ivan McKee is urging the UK Government to reverse its decision to cancel talks on the scheme which will replace EU structural funds.
A planned meeting with Housing, Communities and Local Government Minister Luke Hall was cancelled last month and now Mr McKee has been told it will not take place until after the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which is expected to contain full details of the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
It follows concern expressed by the devolved nations at the lack of information on how the UKSPF will work and what its value will be. The Scottish Government is seeking an assurance that funding decisions will be fully devolved, matching the way EU structural funds are currently managed.
Mr McKee has written to Mr Hall, asking that their meeting is reinstated as a matter of urgency.
“European structural funds have played a vital role in supporting Scotland’s economic and social policy aims.
“To keep the Scottish Government and the other devolved nations at arm’s length during the development of their replacement – which will play an important role in our economic recovery from COVID-19 – is both counterproductive and potentially detrimental to the future success of the Fund.
“We have been clear throughout that all future replacement funding should be fully devolved so that the Scottish Government can target it in a way that meets the specific needs of Scotland's people, businesses and communities.
“To do otherwise would be to ignore both the spirit and day-to-day realities of devolution. The UK Government would be taking back control from Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, not Brussels.
“I hope Mr Hall will reconsider his decision and engage with me urgently on all these points.”
A copy of the Minister’s letter is attached.
EU structural funds are intended to reduce economic inequalities between regions and are worth over £780 million to Scotland for the period 2014-2020.
In Scotland the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund have supported a wide range of projects including skills training, business start-ups, tackling poverty, cultural and heritage schemes and developing communities.