SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, today spoke in the Scottish Parliament during a debate about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Levelling Up agenda.
Allan highlighted the significant impact of EU funding on infrastructure in the Western Isles over the years:
“This support has helped to facilitate major infrastructure projects, transport links and new community facilities in the islands, as well as contributing to the establishment of the University of the Highlands and Islands and delivering wider community benefits through numerous training and social inclusion programmes.
“Throughout the entirety of the Western Isles, the loss of financial support from the EU will be sorely felt, unless the UK Government fully commits to allocating at least the same levels of investment needed to replace the loss of EU Structural funds, as well as the funding from schemes such as the LEADER programmes and the Common Agricultural Payments for crofters.”
Due to launch in 2022, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is the replacement for EU Structural Funds. EU funding was previously distributed by the Scottish Government, but the new UK Internal Market Bill allows the UK Government to allocate funds in devolved areas.
The Scottish Government have said that spending decisions for Scotland being made based on a UK Government agenda simply adds to the complexity of the funding landscape, creating a confused and incoherent policy framework as well as financial inefficiencies.
In his speech today, Allan also raised concerns over the way in which the UK Government has approached the development of these new funding schemes and the constitutional implications of this:
“The UK Government’s Spending Review plans for Levelling Up and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund are, in their operation, an infringement on the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament, and do not come close to matching, in real terms, the significant EU funding revenue from which Scotland has benefited for over 40 years. If the UK Government continues to attempt to impose its own agenda and undermine the devolution settlement, this raises unavoidable constitutional issues.”