Saturday, 28 July 2018 05:12

CONCERN OVER WESTMINSTER POWER GRAB OF INVESTMENT FUNDS

END TO ESIF PUTS SCOTLAND’S CASH IN HANDS OF TORY GOVERNMENT
 
The UK government confirmed this week their plans to replace European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) with a Westminster-controlled “Shared Prosperity Fund” (UKSPF).
 

The current EU programmes put around a billion Euros directly into Scottish communities to help create employment, generate growth, address poverty and inequality, build digital infrastructure and tackle climate change.
 
Scotland will lose out on this direct funding in future because of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. A written statement from a Tory minister this week suggests the proposed replacement fund (UKSPF) will be administered by Westminster with devolved government merely consulted on how the cash is spent.
 
The SNP is demanding that control over Scotland’s share of the UKSPF must lie with Holyrood, describing any attempt to retain these powers at Westminster as a “billion-euro example of the Tory power grab in action” and “completely unacceptable”.
 
In light of recent experience, with the Tory government seeking to tear up the devolution settlement, the SNP would have little confidence in Westminster to administer substantial and much needed development funding on Scotland’s behalf in a way which protects the interests of communities or the economy. The SNP has cited the example of European CAP convergence funding of £190 million which the UK was only entitled to because of Scotland’s distinct per hectare rate, and yet Westminster has failed to distribute the £160 million of that which Scottish hill farmers are entitled to – with fears that the planned UKSPF could similarly disadvantage Scotland.
 
Commenting Alasdair Allan MSP, whose Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency benefits significantly from European Structural Funding, said:
 
“This is a billion-euro example of the Tory power grab in action.
 
“European Structural Funding has helped to create employment, build roads and infrastructure and help tackle unemployment in every corner of Scotland – particularly in some of our most remote communities.
 
“To replace this with a system administered entirely by Westminster, instead of here in Scotland, would be completely unacceptable.
 
“Given their recent form in seeking to tear up the devolution settlement, there would be little reason to trust the Tories and simply cross our fingers in hope that we’d get a fair share of investment.
 
“And we know the Tory government is happy to hold on to money due to Scotland whenever they get the chance – keeping £160 million in funds due to Scotland’s hill farmers for themselves.
 
“Powers must be repatriated in full to the Scottish Parliament alongside a substantial package of funding, allowing for the right choices to be made in the best interests of the people of Scotland and our economy.
 
“Anything less is a power grab – plain and simple – and just the latest example of Westminster working against Scotland.”
 
Third sector fears Westminster funding power grab. Concern has been expressed over plans for Westminster to manage the replacement for the European Structural Funds
http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/third-sector-fears-westminster-funding-power-grab
 
Written statement by James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) on 24/07/18
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-07-24/HCWS927/
“UKSPF in the devolved nations. The UKSPF will operate across the UK. The Government will of course respect the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will engage the devolved administrations to ensure the fund works for places across the UK.”

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