Section 4 Policy Alignment
This section sets out the policy focus for the programme and how it aligns to and complements related activity.
The key aim is to reduce economic and social disparities within and between places and people in Scotland whilst the main themes for the national fund are improving places, tackling poverty, increasing skills and business and job growth. In addition, wellbeing and addressing climate change will be placed as horizontal themes which cut across the programme.
The policy context will be provided by the National Performance Framework. The programme will also retain a line of sight to EU cohesion policy to ensure the opportunities for territorial cooperation and international learning continue.
|Overall Aim||To reduce economic and social disparities within and between places and people in Scotland|
|Key Themes||Improving Places||Tackling Poverty||Skilled People||Business and Job Growth|
|NPF Outcomes||We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.||We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally.||We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society.||We have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone.|
|Inclusive Growth Theme||Communities across Scotland have the natural and physical resources to ensure they are strong and sustainable.||Inequality of opportunity to access work is addressed and jobs are fulfilling, secure and well-paid.||Scotland's population is healthy and skilled and economic benefits are spread more widely, with lower levels of inequality.||Businesses are competitive and economic growth is resilient and sustainable.|
|Horizontal Themes|| Wellbeing
Regional plans should have a clear and identifiable link between their aims and objective and the overall national themes. However, regional and sub-regional actors are free to select the most important for their areas and align support and funding accordingly. This may lead to programmes across Scotland applying different weightings to different outcomes, e.g. rural and Island areas may choose to focus on population retention whereas urban areas may concentrate on tackling poverty.
Local Authorities will have a key and central role to play in this programme. Many of them will be the budget holder for the regional fund, and all of them will have a leading role to play in the development and delivery of regional programmes. We will continue to work closely with them and COSLA on the detail of delivery once funding from the UK Government is confirmed.
Links to Other Funding Streams
At this stage it is not clear which funding and policies will be bundled into the UKSPF – will it be a straight replacement for the European Regional Development and Social Funds, or will it also seek to replace other EU funding programmes? This lack of clarity has impacted in particular on arrangements regarding the replacement for the rural development programme, LEADER, which is currently funded under CAP Pillar 2.
This work has assumed that the aims and objectives covered by the current LEADER programme should be incorporated into the SPF. However, this is contingent on the UK Government providing full replacement funding. LEADER is worth around £50.8 million over the 2014-20 Programme and supports 21 LEADER Action Groups (LAGs) across Scotland.
As noted in the previous section, the quantum of funding is unlikely to be able to pay for national or major infrastructure projects. However it must be recognised that such investment may be appropriate for some geographies in so far as it aligns to national ambitions and is crucial to realising regional growth aims. Aligning funds from this programme with other funding vehicles may be the best route forward and this will be explored in more depth.
Furthermore, the Scottish Government is clear in its wish to continue to participate in the Future European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) Programmes and collaborate with our near neighbours. These have been of considerable benefit to Scotland with almost £98 million allocated to Scottish partners through competitive application processes from 2014-2020. These programmes, in particular the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and North Sea Region Programme, have been of great benefit to Scotland, not only in financial terms, but also in relation to knowledge transfer and sustained collaboration on common issues to find joint solutions. The UK Government have stated that ETC will be subsumed into the UKSPF. As a consequence the Scottish Government is clear that this money should be devolved to enable Scotland to decide on continued participation in ETC programmes that will continue to benefit the people of Scotland.
Throughout the consultation process ran a very palpable theme of the need for recognition of climate change and how the fund might support Scotland net zero ambitions. In addressing this and to ensure sufficient visibility, climate change has been made one of two horizontal themes which are expected to be integrated into all activity supported through the fund.
Zero Waste Scotland has engaged to ensure sustainable and climate related indictors will be developed to increase focus on this key issue.
Alignment with Scottish priorities may not be possible should the UK scheme be drafted to prioritise the UK Industrial Strategy or other UK designed policies such as the "Levelling Up" agenda. Further work on this is required once details of the conditions and constraints around the UK Scheme are known.
The devolution of greater levels of policy control to regional and sub-regional actors will create a range of differently weighted programmes across geographies. Whilst we understand that different stakeholders prioritise different issues, at a national level we must ensure this does not give rise to any unintended inequalities of access.
Given the potential broad scope of the fund, there is a risk that it duplicates rather than complements existing public funding and policies. We will develop processes to ensure that monies are being used in a genuinely additional manner.