1. Introduction from Minister
As Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, it is my pleasure to introduce the 2021 case study booklet of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Programmes.
Having been appointed to my role in May this year, the 2014-2020 ESIF Programmes were new to my ministerial portfolio. However, I am well aware of the benefits that the programmes have brought to Scotland over many years of EU membership. Indeed it is difficult to travel through Scotland and not come across a business, organisation or community which has benefitted from this funding in one way or another.
My primary role in relation to the programmes is endorsing approvals of funding applications, so to read the case studies of the projects that these funds support, what they achieve and the difference they make to people's lives – it brings the whole process to life.
Our Lead Partners and delivery agents are delivering our aims of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth every day – whether that's by using European Social Fund (ESF) support to improve people's skills and fight poverty, or directing European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) support towards our business sector and tackling climate change.
Now that the UK is no longer in the European Union, the 2014-2020 ESIF Programmes will be Scotland's last opportunity to deploy the funds to our benefit. But even though we are now in 2021, the programmes are far from over and the Scottish Government continues to make big decisions about allocating ESIF support to where it can be most effective.
For example this summer, taking advantage of the European Commission's Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative measures, we approved a £37 million ERDF allocation to help purchase millions of items of PPE for NHS workers.
This booklet contains a range of other outstanding examples of the programmes' achievements. However, I know that there is still so much more that we can do with the programmes before they end in 2023.
Together with our delivery partners, we will continue to maximise remaining funding to help Scotland recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build a fairer future for all.
Richard Lochhead MSP
Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work