UK’s EU fund vow ‘falls short of Scots’ needs’

Derek Mackay

Scottish Government finance secretary Derek Mackay said guarantees for UK businesses and universities over EU funding from UK chancellor Philip Hammond fall “far short” of what Scottish farmers, fishermen and communities need.

Hammond said that structural and investment funds projects signed before the Autumn Statement and Horizon university research funding granted before the UK leaves the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK leaves.

Hammond said the UK government would also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020.

“The UK will continue to have all of the rights, obligations and benefits that membership brings, including receiving European funding, up until the point we leave the EU,” said Hammond.

“We recognise that many organisations across the UK which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive.

“That is why I am confirming that structural and investment funds projects signed before the Autumn Statement and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave.

“The government will also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020, providing certainty to our agricultural community, which play a vital role in our country.”

Mackay, though, said Hammond’s commitments did not go far enough and “still leave almost £750 million not yet guaranteed.”

Mackay said the failure to provide comprehensive, long-term guarantees left farmers, fishermen and communities across Scotland facing threats to critical investment and jobs.

Mackay said of Hammond’s statement: “We will study the detail but what is already clear is the chancellor’s approach falls far short of what fishermen, farmers and communities across Scotland need.

“A limited guarantee for some schemes for a few short years leaves Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds short of what we would receive as members of the EU.

“Major funding stream such as contracts for EU structural funds and European Maritime Fisheries projects beginning after the Autumn Statement have no guarantee of continuation at all. That simply isn’t good enough.

“Scotland has taken a sensible approach on funding commitments to ensure value for money and maximising outcomes.

“The uncertainty caused by the UK Government delaying decisions could lead to the financial exposure of many millions of pounds if this is not addressed.

“It puts significant investment and jobs at risk, revealing the reality of Brexit. Scotland didn’t back Brexit and doesn’t want Brexit.

“We certainly should not now see funding and investment in communities hammered as a result of Brexit.

“Since the outcome of the EU referendum, we have urged the UK Government to provide clarity and certainty on these vital funds.

“Yet, all that is clear with this announcement is that the uncertainty will continue.

“We will of course engage urgently with the Treasury to seek a way forward, and provide what reassurance we can to proposed beneficiaries.

“The best way to guarantee the jobs, investment, services and projects all over the country which depend on this funding beyond 2020 is by maintaining Scotland’s relationship with the EU.”

The UK Treasury statement said its assurances include:

  • all structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU
  • the Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU. Further details will be provided ahead of the Autumn Statement
  • where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU