Call for clarity on Scottish cash from post-Brexit scheme

UK Government urged to set out how much money will be made available to Scotland as part of Shared Prosperity Fund.

Call for clarity on Scottish cash from post-Brexit scheme iStock

The UK Government is being urged to set out exactly how much cash Scotland will receive from a scheme designed to replace European funding following Brexit.

The Scottish Affairs Committee has called on ministers to clarify how much money will be made available north of the border as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

It made the plea as it warned that “uncertainty” over the operation of the fund – which will run from 2022 – was “hindering planning efforts and poses risks to a smooth transition”.

Scotland received cash from the European Union for more than 40 years, with money having been received via both the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund.

For the period 2014 to 2020, projects across Scotland were allocated £780m – with the UK Government having committed to matching the funding the country would have received, had it still been in the EU.

But while it pledged in 2018 to hold a consultation on the design of the UKSPF, MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee noted that “no formal consultation has yet been held by the UK Government”.

In a new report on the issue, the committee said: “We welcome the UK Government’s commitment that all UK nations will receive at least the same amount of funds under UKSPF as under the EU funds.

“It is, however, unclear how much funding will be available per year, even as an average.

“The UK Government’s multi-year funding profile should clarify how much funding will be available each year for the UK and for Scotland for at least the first five years of the UKSPF.”

The committee also insisted a consultation on the new fund should start by this autumn.

And it called for the Scottish and UK governments to “work constructively together in the design and delivery of the UKSPF”.

Speaking as the report was published, committee chair Pete Wishart said: “It is no secret that Scotland benefited significantly from EU funds and led to many communities and universities to prosper.

“While we have been assured that UK replacement funds will match or exceed EU funds, we are yet to see any evidence of this.

“Nor have we been able to access information on the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund or how locations will be selected to receive grants.”

He added: “It is bewildering that there seems to have been no formal consultation and time is fast running out before the UK Shared Prosperity Fund begins next year.

“Our committee urges the UK Government to consult urgently and to provide clarity on funding for what could be a vital lifeline for businesses, universities and communities across Scotland.”

The report has been published just days after Scottish Government ministers say they had had “no clear response” from Westminster on how the post-Brexit funding scheme will work – despite asking questions for almost two years.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Our UK Shared Prosperity Fund will invest in people, communities and local business right across the country to level up and create opportunity where it is needed most.

“We have been engaging with a wide range of key stakeholders in Scotland and across all parts of the UK since 2016, and this has helped identify the opportunities for UKSPF policy, learning lessons from EU funding.

“We will increase UK-wide domestic funding to at least match what the EU currently offers – reaching around £1.5bn a year.”

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