Highlands and Islands (Scottish Labour) MSP, David Stewart (pictured) has voiced his concern over the impact of significant cuts to Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amid the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis.
Analysis of the Scottish Government budget reveals that HIE funding is estimated to be £58.2m in 2020/21, which in cash terms is a decrease of 5% on the previous year.
HIE plays a vital role in supporting inclusive growth across the region which includes accelerating business growth, strengthening communities, supporting growth sectors, and developing regional attractiveness.
As businesses across the region are put at risk due to indefinite closure to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, David Stewart MSP has asked the Scottish Government if it will reverse the 5% budget cut to HIE to support businesses and economic recovery following the crisis.
Commenting David Stewart MSP said:
“The effects of the Coronavirus shutdown on businesses – including restaurants, shops and arts organisations – is going to be huge.
“We welcome the support that the UK and Scottish Governments has announced, but it may not be enough.
“Businesses must be reassured they will not come out of this crisis saddled with debt.
“The cuts being passed down to HIE for the coming financial year were always short-sighted, however, the impact that these cuts are going to have now due to the additional pressures being put on businesses across the region by the negative economic impact of Covid-19 bring this into even sharper relief.
“HIE play an essential role in strengthening local communities across the Highlands and Islands, which is one of Scotland’s most economically fragile areas.
“It is vital that the Scottish Government reverse the cuts and show a commitment to supporting businesses and economic recovery in the region once we are through this crisis.”