Government reveals 'no certainty' vital EU funding will continue after questioning from Gil Paterson MSP
THERE is “absolutely no certainty” vital EU funding will be replaced in Scotland after Brexit, a minister has revealed.
Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government and housing, made the statement when asked by Gil Paterson MSP at a general questions session in the Scottish Parliament.
On Thursday, November 24, Mr Paterson questioned the government on the impact Brexit will have on local authorities.
Scotland’s local authorities received over £158 million of European regional development fund and European social fund between 2007 and 2016, Mr Stewart revealed.
However, he said: “The UK Government has provided absolutely no certainty or clarity on replacement funding arrangements for those schemes once the UK has left the EU.”
Funding of projects up to the point of Brexit has been guaranteed by the UK Government but beyond that time there is no word on any replacement.
The Scottish Government is set to administer £700 million of funding to oversee the continuation of these schemes, finance minister Derek Mackay MSP announced on November 2.
Structural funds are used to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth around the EU – often targeting employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate/energy.
Mr Paterson, the MSP for Clydebank/Milngavie and Bearsden said: “I know our local authorities benefit from EU funding to tackle a wide range of issues across the country – with East and West Dunbartonshire will lose around £4 million which will have an impact on Clydebank, Bearsden and Milngavie.
“While it’s welcomed the funding will continue for all projects up to Brexit day, it’s alarming that it may be cut off altogether after that.
“I was glad to try and add some clarity on this issue, so we may go forward that little bit more informed in this dark political time.”
Full transcript of questioning on November 24 2016 at General Questions in the parliament.
European Union Referendum (Impact on Local Government)
· 3. Gil Paterson (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what impact leaving the European Union will have on local government. (S5O-00387)
· The Minister for Local Government and Housing (Kevin Stewart):
Local government has the same ambitions as we have for stronger communities, a fairer society and a thriving economy. We will work in partnership with councils to respond to the implications of the EU referendum outcome. The Scottish Government is exploring all options to protect Scotland from a hard Brexit that economists say will cost 80,000 Scottish jobs. Our five key interests are democracy, economic prosperity, social protection, solidarity and influence.
European funding is important to local government: the 2007-13 programmes of the European regional development fund and European social fund awarded £158.3 million to Scotland’s local authorities, which was spent in the years 2007 to 2016.
· Gil Paterson:
I thank the minister for that answer. We know that the EU plays an integral part at all levels of government in helping to deliver important projects. Will the minister provide an update on the position with regard to payment of EU structural funds once the UK leaves the EU.
· Kevin Stewart:
Since the outcome of the referendum, we have urged the UK Government to provide clarity and certainty about those vital European funds. The UK Government guarantees that have been offered to date on European structural funds provide that all contracts that are entered into before the point at which the UK leaves the EU will be guaranteed, even when those payments continue beyond the EU exit point. However, the UK Government has provided absolutely no certainty or clarity on replacement funding arrangements for those schemes once the UK has left the EU.
On 2 November, my colleague Derek Mackay, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, announced that the Scottish Government will pass on in full to Scottish stakeholders the EU funding guarantees that the UK Government has offered. That will protect all spending commitments in schemes that are entered into from now until the point at which the UK leaves the EU. That provides certainty on more than £700 million of EU funding for Scotland.