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Saturday, May 18, 2024

UK Governments Shared Prosperity Fund a Betrayal of The Highlands and Islands

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Richard Lochhead MSP has described the funding arrangements for the replacement for lost EU funds, the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, as a complete betrayal of Moray and the wider Highlands and Islands region.

EU funds have underpinned many projects in the region from the University of the Highlands & Islands, to skills and employability projects as well as tourism to give just a few examples.

Mr Lochhead has criticised the UK Government for breaking promises to deliver at least the same levels of funding to communities in Scotland as we had received from the EU prior to Brexit.

The UK Government has now confirmed that through the Shared Prosperity Fund Scotland will receive £212m over a three-year period.

Moray’s MSP has described this as a “another broken promise” falling far short of the £549m Scotland would receive from the EU over the same period.

Mr Lochhead has highlighted his serious concerns over the impact on Moray and the Highlands and Islands region, which received 19% of Scotland’s share of EU funding but is only set to receive 11% of cash from the UK Government’s new scheme, which amounts to a smaller share of a smaller pot.

Commenting, Richard Lochhead MSP said:

“In recent weeks the UK Government has finally announced plans for its UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which it claims will replace the EU funding that prior to Brexit played a vital role in economic and social development in our local communities.

“What has been announced by UK Ministers is a complete betrayal of Scotland, and in particular Moray and the wider Highlands and Islands – areas that disproportionately benefitted from EU funds but now face a smaller share from a smaller pot as a result of yet another rotten broken promise.

“The reality is that the UK Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda means Moray and wider region losing out.

“When the numbers are crunched it turns out that Scotland is seeing a 60% real terms reduction in funding through the Tory Government’s scheme, with the Highlands and Islands region set to receive a much smaller share of a much-reduced pot of money.

 “It is incredible to think that the region with some of the biggest barriers to economic development is set to lose out in this way and it destroys any claims by the Conservative Party that they understand or care about the needs of Scotland’s rural communities.

“Scottish Government Ministers have been excluded from decision making on the new scheme throughout, which is another broken promise, and given the huge loss in funding coming to Scotland, I find the plans completely intolerable.”

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