- 25 Jul 2018
Attendees and apologies
- Mary McAllan, Scottish Government (Chair)
- David Anderson, Scottish Government
- Louisa Harvey, Scottish Government
- Kirsten Beddows, Scottish Government
- Gillian McDonald, Scottish Government
- Pete Carlyle (minutes), Scottish Government
- Stuart Black, HOPS (Highland Council)
- Sharon Thomson, (sub) SLAED (Glasgow City Council)
- Lesley McDonald, (sub) Scottish Islands Local Authorities
- Lucy McTerna,n (sub) Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations
- Carroll Buxton, Highlands & Islands Enterprise
- Christine Mulligan, (sub) Skills Development Scotland
- Fiona Grossmann, European Commission DG Agri
- Joanna Gawrylczyk-Males,a European Commission DG Emploi
- Sabine Germe, European Commission DG Regio
- Liz Ditchburn, Scottish Government
- Iain Scott, Scottish Enterprise
- Martin Sime, Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations
- Mark Bevan, Scottish Council for Development and Industry
- Pamela Smith, SLAED
- Sarah Jane Laing, Scottish Land and Estates
- Vicki Swales, EnvironmentLINK
- Diane Greenlees, Skills Development Scotland
- Alistair Buchan, Scottish Islands Local Authorities (Orkney Islands Council)
- NFU Scotland
- Scottish Salmon Farming Industry
- Scottish Land and Estates
- Big Lottery Fund
- Scottish Chambers
- Scottish Funding Council
- Scottish Trades Union Congress
- Scottish Fishermen’s Federation
Items and actions
Item 01: Welcome and Introduction
Noted that Lucy McTernan replaces Martin Sime as JPMC member from SCVO following his retirement.
Agenda items for discussion
Item 02: Minutes from meeting on 14 June 2017
The minutes were accepted. All actions closed or addressed through agenda items.
Item 03: ESIF Programme performance against partnership agreement
Reported that levels of commitment are largely as anticipated for both ESF and ERDF with £395m committed. Submissions for phase 2 ESF/ERDF will be accepted from Jan 2108 with aim to be fully committed by March 2019. Pace of claims and progress towards targets remains slow. This is due in part to the increased levels of detail and scrutiny required by EC Regulations which is taking Lead Partners (LP) longer to prepare and the Managing Authority (MA) longer to check. Increasing familiarity with processes and the EUMIS system is improving this.
De-commitment of ESF/ERDF funds likely due to EC n+3 rules, and noted largely as a result of a significant drop in youth unemployment levels and its impact on YEI ability to deliver. Commitment towards the targets is anecdotally reported as reasonable but actual reported progress reported on EUMIS is slower. SRDP runs annual application rounds and is impacted by the uncertainty brought on by Brexit and commitment and investment under priority 5, Woodland Creation, is low. No issues in achieving n+3 for this programme. LEADER is seeing changes of pace with some projects speeding up or slowing down as a result of uncertainty around Brexit. Overall felt to be still on target.
Agreed crucial that funds are publicised as available, new applications are encouraged and open channels of communication exist between SG and LPs to allow an accurate picture of what remains still to be achieved and how to plan ahead.
Action 01: Update membership list with Lucy McTernan as SCVO representative
Action 02: Provide graphical presentation of performance data from next JPMC
Action 03: Add EMFF figures to performance framework paper
Action 04: Maintain regular communication with LPs on progress against performance framework, claims and n+3.
Action 05: Publicise the continued availability of the ESF/ERDF funds
Item 04: Update on programmes
YEITC: Noted that since the programmes were adopted the Youth Employment rate has dropped from over 20% to just under 10% in south-west Scotland. This has caused LPs to struggle to find young people to support resulting in a shortfall of £16 million within YEI (if all submitted claims are paid) this year and will result in a de-commitment to the programme. How n+3 is measured (at Programme or fund level) will determine the level of de-commitment to the ESF programme. The YEI targets are reported as being on track to be met. The MA will review YEI in 2018 including re-allocating the ESF portion of the YEI allocation if possible.
RDOC: Reported that the Programme is progressing well, with good levels of commitments and spend. There continue to be on-going budget pressures and the JPMC had previously been made aware of Ministerial decisions to amend the SRDP indicative scheme budgets. Key issues noted were uptake to the Broadband Scheme is slower than anticipated due to the announcement of the R100 programme; and, Ministers have decided to close the Environmental Cooperation Action Fund due to audit concerns. However, it is hoped to deliver landscape scale environmental projects through other avenues.
The Error Rate Action Plan was also highlighted as an issue, as audit error rates for land based measures were high, and action is being taken to address this.
Further detail on individual scheme performance was available from the published RDOC papers: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/SRDP/SRDP2014-2020RDOC/RDOC-2017-papers
LEADER: Work continues in promoting LEADER including weekly Film Promotions and monthly newsletters. Despite a slow start the Local Action Rural Communities IT System (LARCS) now has over 860 applications of which 365 are approved live projects with a further 70 awaiting approval. In addition to IT Training there have been a number of successful workshops delivered to both Local Action Groups (LAGs) and accountable bodies with positive feedback received throughout. Of the 21 LAGs, 16 have committed more than £1 million of their funding. Requests have been made for Budget Forecast Spend information in order to more accurately predict and report on spend to date. Some concerns have been raised as a result of Brexit with some areas stating they will not deliver projects beyond March 2019. HITC: Meeting of 2 November discussed the lower uptake in Highlands and Islands through challenge funds and grant schemes due to issues including availability of match funding. The changes to the Operational Programmes will help and some lead partners, such as Transport Scotland have launched a specific H&I challenge fund with lower thresholds. The practicalities of the timescale and delivery of Phase 2 led to a call for a working group to look at phase 2 and delivery. Discussions on progressing this are in hand.
HITC: Meeting of 2 November discussed the lower uptake in Highlands and Islands through challenge funds and grant schemes due to issues including availability of match funding. The changes to the Operational Programmes will help and some lead partners, such as Transport Scotland have launched a specific H&I challenge fund with lower thresholds. The practicalities of the timescale and delivery of Phase 2 led to a call for a working group to look at phase 2 and delivery. Discussions on progressing this are in hand.
Action 06: Provide JPMC with selection criteria for Phase II
Action 07: Examine how to focus on harder to reach groups and use the funds in a more focused way
Action 08: Options for amended governance for ERDF/ESF accepted. Look to set out planned structure for consideration
Action 09: Set up working group as discussed in HITC to discuss Phase 2 allocations
Item 05: Update on operational programmes changes (ESF/ERDF)
Operational Programmes amendments were submitted to the EC in September with ERDF approved on 16 November. ESF expected to be approved by mid-December.
Noted that the increased scope under ERDF Investment Priority 1b will contribute to an SI to support NMIS and will be run as a Challenge Fund. Discussions are underway to identify a lead partner for Culture and Heritage (investment priority 6C) and SCVO and Highland Council both advised they would be happy to be considered. Mental Health was raised as part of the review and fits within the scope of the Operational Programme however it is proving difficult to find a suitable fit with ESF. Some work is already delivered through the pipelines. Opportunities to support discussed with colleagues but no suitable programme of work has been identified.
Phase 2 applications will be sought from January for SI and operation extensions. New SI and operations should be submitted from March. The MA Approval Panels will take place every 6 weeks. A review of remaining funds will take place over the summer to allow the maximum possible level of commitment.
Action 10: Identify suitable lead partner(s) for Culture and Heritage (priority 6C)
Action 11: Outline all recommendations from review (Infrastructure, Culture and Heritage, Mental Health, Digital) and detail actions taken and position to date
Action 12: Follow up with Mental Health and Digital Skills colleagues to see if gaps can be identified and if interventions could be put in place to support this
Item 06: ESF and ERDF Risk Register and issues log
An updated risk register was provided taking account of comments made at the last JPMC. Noted that the Brexit risk remains unchanged due to a lack of any further detail. N+3 is now red for those reasons discussed under Item 3. Errors and Behaviours found in 2007-2013 Programme has increased to a rating of 16 following the performance of the recent audit.
Items for decision
Item 07: Update on ESF and ERDF technical assistance
The last JPMC request that the MA look further into the level of third sector and community engagement in the programmes has not progressed due to business and time constraints. The MA has now issued a proposal to examine and identify areas where opportunity exists to bring forward third sector and community groups with a capacity to deliver. A meeting to discuss this proposal to follow JPMC.
ACTION 13: Provide a proposal to use TA to stimulate Third Sector involvement (challenge fund or other model to be considered).
Item 08: EAFRD Modification 4 – Proposed changes to SRDP programme
Three schemes are affected by the proposed modification of the SRDP. The modification is to reflect Ministerial decisions on the payments for the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) for 2018 to be reduced to 80%, the closure of ECAF, along with improvements to the Agri-Environment-Climate Scheme. It was noted that the changes to the LFASS payments were a requirement of EU Regulations, however, these regulations may be amended which would then delay the need to change LFASS until 2019. If this happened the LFASS requirements may change depending on budget availability.
Items for information
Item 09: EMFF operational update
Paper provided for information only.
Action 14: Provide an update on the low uptake of UP 3 and 6 within EMFF
Item 10: ESF and ERDF SI and operation selection criteria
The recent EC audit mission to ESF/ ERDF asked whether the SI & Operation Selection and appraisal process had been agreed by the JPMC. No evidence was available in support that they had. These papers are provided as evidence of the process for agreement by the JPMC.
SI applications were shared on through the knowledge hub for phase 1 applications. Agreement is sought that performance information at operation level now be shared at the JPMC instead.
Item 11: AOCB
No additional business was raised for discussion.