8. Wider Points Raised
This section captures the range of wider points raised within consultation submissions that did not directly relate to the online consultation questions.
Support for Scottish Minister "Five Red" Lines
Many of the submissions made reference to one or more of the Scottish Ministers five "red lines" (as outlined in Section 1).
There was reference made to the challenges posed by the current limited information from the UK Government on the UKSPF.
There was strong support for the devolution settlement to be respected, and that Scotland should not lose out financially compared with the current level of funding that it receives from the EU.
There was commentary on the negative impact that not replacing the ESIF could have on people, businesses and places across Scotland. These responses highlighted that the funds have provided considerable investment over many years to increase competitiveness, innovation, employability, jobs, sustainable growth, and tackle exclusion and deprivation.
Lack of Clarity on Other EU Funding
Strong levels of concern were expressed about the current uncertainty and the lack of clarity regarding other EU funding programmes (e.g. SRDP, including LEADER, and EMFF).
Similar to the regional events (Section 9), the role of any future replacement for LEADER funding in particular was frequently brought up, and many submissions discussed LEADER (rural development) even though it was clearly stated that this was not the focus of the current consultation.
There were many comments that raised issues of the difficulties organisations might face if there is a funding gap or a long hiatus at the end of the current ESIF programmes and before the replacement scheme is operational.
There was support for a smooth transition process and for the introduction of a transition fund to "smooth the passage between ESIF and the UKSPF and ensure the sustainability of approved and committed ESIF projects". The main message was that gaps in funding at the local level between ESIF and UKSPF must be avoided.
Wider Principles Identified for the Fund
In considering proposed aims for any new Fund (Question 1), many respondents identified a number of wider principles for the new Fund, namely:
- Build on the good practice and know-how accumulated in the design and delivery of EU funding schemes over several decades.
- A requirement for large-scale capital (and revenue) funding.
- Consolidate the scope and resources currently disbursed by several existing EU funds (i.e. the single pot approach).
- That funding should seek to prioritise investments that would offer a medium or long-term return on investment. However, there was recognition that not all projects should be subject to a purely economic test of viability.
- Adopting the main principles of the Christie Commission Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services (e.g. prioritising preventative measures to reduce demand and lessen inequalities).