Publication - Consultation analysis

Replacement for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Post-EU Exit in Scotland: consultation report

Analysis of the findings of the consultation into the Replacement for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Post-EU Exit in Scotland carried out between 5 November 2019 - 12 February 2020.

105 page PDF

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105 page PDF

928.5 kB

Replacement for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Post-EU Exit in Scotland: consultation report
2. Consultation Methodology

105 page PDF

928.5 kB

2. Consultation Methodology


The consultation involved three strands of activity which was managed and overseen by a group of experts with strong expertise in the management and administration of various funding programmes and the delivery of social and economic policies. The Steering Group had representation from the Scottish Government and its key partners and stakeholders.

External partners included:

  • Professor David Bell (Chair) - University of Stirling.
  • Professor John Bachtler (Co-Chair) - European Policies Research Centre (EPRC), University of Strathclyde.
  • Councillor Dr Steven Heddle - Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).
  • Robin Clarke - Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
  • Douglas Colquhoun - Scottish Enterprise (SE).
  • Anna Fowlie - Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).
  • Professor Russell Griggs OBE - South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP).
  • Malcolm Leitch - Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development (SLAED).

Scottish Government members included:

  • Gary Gillespie - Chief Economist.
  • Mary McAllan - Director for Economic Development.
  • Dominic Munro - Director for Fair Work, Employability and Skills.
  • Hilary Pearce - Deputy Director of European Structural Funds & State Aid.


The main strand of the consultation was the Scottish Government's online consultation which ran from 5 November to 2019 to 12 February 2020.

This was supported by a series of regional and thematic events:

  • Eight regional events were held across Scotland during January and February 2020.
  • Four thematic events hosted by the Scottish Government or key partners. The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland's National Academy, hosted two thematic roundtables in January 2020 on Skills and Innovation. The University of Strathclyde hosted a Regional Policy in Scotland after Brexit academic conference in February 2020.[9] Plus the Scottish Government hosted an event with lead partners from the current ESIF programme.

EKOS, an economic and social development consultancy, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake an independent analysis of the consultation responses to the online consultation, and to design and facilitate all eight regional events.

Consultation Analysis and Profiling Information

Wider information about the consultation process is presented below.

Online Consultation

155 responses were received to the online consultation. The Scottish Government provided EKOS with access to all responses via Citizen Space. Some responses were not submitted through this route (26), and did not always follow the consultation structure,[10] or answer the individual consultation questions. Where this was the case, EKOS manually inputted the responses into Citizen Space for inclusion in the overall analysis. A few respondents also provided additional evidence to their online submission through direct email to the Scottish Government.

The online consultation consisted of fourteen open-ended questions. Responses were exported into Microsoft Excel for data cleansing and analysis. Qualitative responses have been sorted and analysed to identify common themes. A breakdown of respondents to the online consultation is provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Online Consultation - Profile of Respondents
Number %
Organisations 126 81%
Individuals 29 19%
Total 155 100%

Note: Two responses were removed from the analysis. Two responses were submitted by the same individual for the same organisation. These responses were combined into one. Another organisation requested its initial response was deleted (and they submitted a new response).

The vast majority of responses were from organisations (81%), Table 1. The majority of organisation responses were from public sector organisations (60% of all organisations), Table 2.

Table 2: Online Consultation - Organisation Respondents by Sector
Number %
Public Sector 75 60%
Third Sector 46 37%
Private Sector 5 4%
Total 126 100%

Percentages have been rounded therefore totals might not equal 100%.

A diverse range of public sector organisations responded to the online consultation, as reflected in Table 3, with local government strongly represented.

Table 3: Online Consultation - Profile of Public Sector Respondents
Number %
Local Government 34 45%
Other 21 28%
Educational Institution 6 8%
Skills or Enterprise Agency 6 8%
National Government 4 5%
Environment Agency 4 5%
Total 75 100%

EKOS coding based on Respondent Information Forms. Other organisations: economic development/ regeneration, regional EU funding partnerships, transport, arts and culture, tourism body, other public services (e.g. health, fire and rescue), cities partnerships, joint response by community planning partnership and voluntary sector forum, professional membership organisation, local authority membership organisation, and representative body of EU funding practitioners. Percentages have been rounded therefore totals might not equal 100%.

It should be noted that some organisations inputted to more than one response. For example, an organisation could have submitted its own individual response and also contributed to a membership body or partnership response.

Some identical phrases were used across the consultation responses from organisations on the distribution of funding. For example, there was repeated mention of a need to tackle regional economic imbalances and problems at Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) Level 2[11] to recognise the economic problems and structural challenges of South Western Scotland.

Regional Events

Eight regional events were held across Scotland, and attracted almost 200 individuals, Figure 1. This often included multiple attendees from the same organisation. Average attendance at each event was 24 individuals.

Figure 1: Regional Events - Details and Attendees
Figure 1: Regional Events - Details and Attendees

Source: Attendee Sign-in Sheets.

Three-quarters of event attendees worked in the public sector (over half of which were local government representatives), and around one-quarter were from the third sector. There was limited attendance at regional events from the private sector.[12] There was an element of overlap - some organisations that submitted a response to the online consultation also attended one or more regional event.

Overall, 171 individual organisations inputted to the consultation either through the online consultation or attendance at a regional event.

Thematic Events

EKOS was provided with the written outputs from each of the thematic events held (the exception being the academic conference).

Consultation Limitations

While the consultation analysis report does identify some common themes, there remains considerable diversity and range. This thematic diversity reflects both the open-ended nature of the questions, and the interests and remits of the contributing organisations. It is also a consequence of the equal weight that the process gives to the views of, on the one hand, large organisations with a national remit and, on the other, smaller organisations with a more local or narrow thematic focus (or an individual's view). The result is that the feedback on, for example, the aims of the new fund (and what it could fund) can sometimes read like a long "wish list" of potential priorities that a fund of this likely scale would struggle to address.

Respondents to the consultation were self-selecting. In the main, the consultation elicited often detailed and thoughtful responses. The consultation attracted significant interest from organisations and groups that have benefitted from previous ESIF, and have understandably sought to maintain that position. It is clear that there are strong vested interests at play in the allocation and targeting of any future funds.

The regional events were well attended and feedback was positive. The views and themes that emerged also tended to reflect reflects the make up of the participants. For example, there was more limited reference to economic development and skills at the regional events.

Most contributors to the online consultation and regional events were public or third sector organisations. Few private sector companies, or representative bodies, took part. Given Scottish Ministers' ambition to design a new fund that drives inclusive economic growth, more contributions from the private sector would have been preferable.

It is important to note that a range of European funds support communities and activities across Scotland, including the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).[13] The SRDP includes various schemes, including LEADER. Other European funded programmes relate to, for example, fisheries (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund - EMFF).

This consultation focused on the policy space that is currently addressed by the ERDF and ESF. Many consultation responses, including but not limited to organisations based in rural areas, took the opportunity to emphasise that future funding to support similar approaches and work would be vital. This might have skewed responses to consultation questions as, for example, the replacement of SRDP or EMFF while not part of the current consultation is also not the subject of a separate consultation process.