Will Argyll & Bute still receive EU funding?

European Union flag outside Holyrood.
European Union flag outside Holyrood.

A report has called for clarity on whether Argyll and Bute will continue to receive vital funding after the UK leaves the European Union.

An inquiry is currently being conducted into how the EU Structural Fund will be allocated around Scotland after Brexit. And Argyll and Bute Council officers have told the Scottish Parliament’s finance and constitution committee of their vision for how the fund is allocated. The response to MSPs has been submitted subject to the approval of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee this Thursday (June 6).

A report by executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne said: “One of the key issues for Argyll and Bute is that the approach and systems used for EU structural fund allocation, implementation and delivery can be improved upon to ensure the UK Shared Prosperity Fund [UKSPF] provides additional funding that is apportioned in a fair and transparent manner.

“Such an approach should give priority to the identified development needs of Argyll and Bute as a region with many fragile local economies, where in turn there is a clear ambition to address such challenges and enable sustainable economic growth.

“Importantly for Argyll and Bute, clarity is required on whether rural development support will be part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) or whether the new support for rural Scotland will have a community empowerment instrument for non-farming activities that would replace the current LEADER programme.

“Likewise for the successor of the local development element of the current European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.”

The report adds that London accounted for 23.9 per cent of output generated from the UKSPF in 2017, an increase on 22.8 per cent in 2012.

A Labour MP described the lack of clarity over what would happen to the funding for Wales after Brexit as “maddening” earlier this year.

The council’s response to the Holyrood committee said: “The scale of the problem has not diminished nor is there any convincing evidence from recent economic trends to justify a substantial change in the share of resources allocated to Scotland. There is also a related point to make here regarding the need for a genuinely multi-annual approach in the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) – this is not a topic that can effectively be addressed by a ‘quick fix’ approach.

“Furthermore, Argyll and Bute Council officers would have serious concerns if the fund was designed on a UK wide challenge fund basis as this could distort the intention of the UKSPF – promoting inclusive growth – by allocating on the basis of the availability of match funding rather than on need.”