An SNP motion to Moray Council has laid bare the negative impact on funding of the methodology applied by the UK Government to the distribution of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
The UKSPF is the replacement for structural European Funding including the European Regional Development Fund, the European Structural Fund, Leader funding programmes and others.
The new methodology results in Moray & the Highlands & Islands getting a significantly smaller percentage of a smaller overall pot, which results in an annual reduction in spend across Moray & the Highlands & Islands of around 7 million pounds per year.
Commenting, SNP Group Co-Leader, Cllr Graham Leadbitter said:
“The Highlands & Islands Councils hold a very strong view that both the level of funding of the UKSPF and the allocation methodology are both deeply flawed and disproportionately damaging to the Highlands & Islands Territorial Area.
“Less money than before has been redistributed from areas of structural challenge to areas with little or no structural challenge.
“A Shared Prosperity Fund should be based on areas of proven and identified need.
“That is sadly not what has been proposed.
“This does not help redress Moray & the Highlands structural disadvantages and certainly doesn’t follow the well established and widely supported principles by which EU funding was distributed.
“Regardless of individual Brexit views there is no good reason to reject those principles, and especially not to the detriment of Moray.”
Speyside Glenlivet Councillor Juli Harris, who seconded the motion, said:
“Speyside has benefited significantly from European funding over decades, as many other communities have right across Moray and the Highlands & Islands.
“Past funding has contributed to infrastructure projects, investments in skills, extensive Leader programmes and much more.
“There has been investment from a range of different funding pots including trials of whisky by rail and other investment in transport infrastructure.
“A major example was the securing of over a million pounds of European funding for Knockando Woolmill.
“Whilst there is still funding to be utilised, it is at a significantly lower level and, consequently, will deliver less benefit to our local communities here in Moray and across the Highlands & Islands.”