MSPs demand answers over £14 EU funding lost '˜due to errors'

The Scottish Government is facing questions over the potential loss of £14 million of European Union (EU) funds due to errors with projects.

Jenny Marra, convener of Holyroods Public Audit and Post Legislative Scrutiny Committee. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

Jenny Marra, convener of Holyrood’s Public Audit and Post Legislative Scrutiny Committee, has written to the Scottish Government’s most senior civil servant seeking answers.

Audit Scotland’s report on the government’s accounts for 2015-16 said the £14 million was “permanent loss of grant to the Scottish Government which it cannot now recover”.

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The Scottish Government had committed the money to projects in Scotland but problems or errors with some of the schemes mean the European Commission is no longer willing to provide the full funds, leaving a funding gap.

Labour’s Ms Marra has asked Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans a series of questions including how many Scottish organisations committed errors in relation to the funds and where the replacement money will come from.

Ms Marra said: “The potential loss of millions of pounds of European money is of significant concern to our committee.

“We want to know why errors were made, the action taken by the Scottish Government to recover funding and whether any domestic budgets may now have to be raided.

“Above all, we need a clear statement from the Scottish Government that it has fully learned the lessons of this episode as public bodies spend the new round of structural funds.

“This is why I have written to the Permanent Secretary demanding answers to our questions as a matter of urgency.”

In her letter, she wrote: “The committee’s concern in asking these questions is that the people of Scotland could effectively suffer a loss of up to £14 million of European money that could have funded important public services.

“The impression given is that there has been a long-term problem with the Scottish Government’s ability to manage EU funding effectively and efficiently.”