Monday, 01 October 2018 13:14

TORY POWER GRAB OF STRUCTURAL FUNDS MUST BE HALTED, SNP WARNS

The SNP’s Joan McAlpine has warned that Scotland must maintain full control over structural and investment funding after Brexit.

This follows reports the Tory government is launching yet another power grab on Scotland’s powers, this time in relation to the multi-million-pound European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) that is currently managed by the Scottish Government.

After Brexit, the UK Government wants to control the fund under a new “Shared Prosperity Fund” (UKSPF) – in the latest sign that Brexit is being used as a smokescreen to centralise power in Westminster.  

Constitutional experts have said taking powers over nearly €1 billion investment away from the Scottish Government, which helps create employment, generate growth, address poverty and inequality, build digital infrastructure and tackle climate change in Scottish communities, would be seen as a “hostile action” by the Tory government with “political consequences”.

SPICe figures show that Scotland benefits significantly from EU funding, receiving 14% of the UK’s EU funding while accounting for 8.3% of the population. And the UK government set a worrying precedent after they failed to redistribute European CAP convergence funding of £190 million, which the UK was only entitled to because of Scotland’s distinct per hectare rate, to Scottish hill farmers.

Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, who also convenes Holyrood’s Europe Committee said:

“The Tories clearly think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it – but this latest power grab will go down like a lead balloon.

“Voters across Scotland will rightly be angry at yet another hostile Tory power grab on Scotland’s powers – stripping us of billions of pounds worth of funding that should come directly to Scotland, and instead devising a new system to control that money entirely from Westminster.  

“The Tories want to rip up the devolution settlement for their own nakedly political ends – and we won’t stand for it.

“They cannot be trusted to guarantee Scotland gets its fair share of this investment, especially given their recent form in denying Scotland’s hill farmers the £160 million CAP funding they were owed.
 
“Serious investment in jobs, services and projects all over Scotland is at stake here, which people’s livelihoods depend on. We must not let the Tories use Brexit as a smokescreen to undermine Scotland’s powers. Not now, not ever.”


Prior to the Brexit vote, Scotland expected to receive €5.6 billion of structural funds from the EU between 2014 and 2020. 
http://www.parliament.scot/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S5/SB_16-89_European_Union_Funding_in_Scotland_2014-2020.pdf
 
Akash Paun, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government think tank specialising in the constitution, said the move would be seen as a “hostile act” by devolved administrations.

“This money is for economic development, skills funding and so on,” he said. “Those are functions that are for the most part already devolved to Scotland and many people’s expectation is that this money will come more fully under devolved control after Brexit.

“Anything that involves taking away powers or levers that the Scottish Government currently holds would be seen as quite a hostile action.
“It’s not a uniform, national [UK-wide] system at the moment, so attempts to create a new UK-run scheme that makes disbursements to localities based on conditions set in Whitehall rather than in Edinburgh or Cardiff would be regarded as a centralising move.”

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