THE Scottish Government has said the Chancellor’s protection for European Union-backed projects will not end the post-Brexit uncertainty for Scottish communities.
Philip Hammond will guarantee Government funding for projects backed by the EU structural and investment fund, including agri-environment schemes, which are signed off before this year’s Autumn Statement at a cost of £4.5 billion a year to UK taxpayers.
Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the “limited” funding is hundreds of millions of pounds short of what Scotland would receive as a member of the EU.
Mr Mackay said: “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 streams 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.
“It puts at risk significant investment and jobs, 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.
“But 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.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to “explore all options” to keep Scotland in the EU and said another independence referendum is “highly likely”.
Mr Hammond said: “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’s 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, who play a vital role in our country.”