Between 2014 and 2020, up to €1 billion in European structural funding is allocated to Scotland under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programme. This funding programme is expected to continue in the short-term after Brexit either under the Withdrawal Agreement or through guarantees made by the UK Treasury. After 2020, the UK Government has proposed to fund structural fund priorities through a UK Shared Prosperity Fund aimed at reducing inequalities between communities across the UK.
The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee (EEFWC) have reported their recommendations on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund including that it should be for Scotland to decide its own internal allocation formula and should build on the best characteristics of ESIF including longer timeframes, needs-driven and the ethos of partnership working.
The Finance and Constitution Committee’s inquiry aims to explore the experience of lead partners, delivery agents and beneficiaries to inform the design of any future funding of structural priorities in Scotland post-Brexit. Given their parallels, LEADER funding is included in the scope of this inquiry.
1. How should Scotland’s share of post-Brexit structural funding be determined? (for example, should it be on measures such as GDP, needs-based, via the Barnett formula; match funding or based on competition?)
2. Should the existing structural funding priorities be retained for any new funding approach post-Brexit or are there other national or regional outcomes, strategies or plans to which future funding should align instead?
3. In terms of the proposal for a UK Shared Prosperity Fund - where should the responsibility for any decisions about funding levels and allocation be taken (for example UK Government, Scottish Government, Local Government or local stakeholders) and what level of autonomy should they have in deciding how funding is allocated?
4. To what extent should the current system of allocating funding to strategic interventions across Scotland through lead partners etc be retained or changed by any post-Brexit funding approach and why?
Barriers to funding projects
5. What barriers limit strategic intervention funds being committed to individual projects under the current programmes and to what extent should any new structural funding approach address these barriers?
6. To what extent should any rules relating to post-Brexit structural funding enable a flexible approach to the range of local projects that can be supported or should the rules focus on funding specific outcomes or purposes (such as through ring fencing)?
7. Are there examples of current structural fund priorities being more effectively supported by other funds (or core funding) such that they should not form part of any post-Brexit structural funding approach?
8. What changes to the current monitoring, evaluation and compliance activities would reduce administrative complexity for any future structural funds approach while maintaining sufficient transparency?
9. Should the system for making claims change for any future funding approach?
The Committee would welcome written submissions dealing with the issues outlined above and any other relevant views in relation to the future funding arrangements for EU structural funding priorities in Scotland.
The closing date for responses is Thursday 25 April 2019.
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What happens next?
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