Scottish Parliament committee to ‘follow the money’ as it looks at effectiveness of EU structural funding

Written by Jenni Davidson on 15 February 2018 in News

Holyrood’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee has launched an inquiry into European Structural and Investment Funds

Scottish Parliament building - Image credit: Scottish Parliament

A Holyrood committee is to “follow the money” as it looks at the issue of EU development funding in Scotland.

The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of European structural funding and its possible replacements after Brexit.

Scotland has been allocated nearly €1bn of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) between 2014 and 2020 to promote economic development.

So far, around 50 per cent of the €941m has been committed to projects, with match-funding from the Scottish public sector meaning that ESIFs could result in an overall investment of around €1.9bn in the Scottish economy over the six-year period. 

The money is used to support public bodies such as Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland, local authorities and Scottish Government activities including skills and training programmes, research and development, support to business and the development of infrastructure.

The Scottish Government distributes funds to lead partners, such as policy directorates, agencies and local authorities, who provide match funding and then distribute it to individual projects and organisations.

The committee will consider what should be used to replace this funding after the UK leaves the EU.

Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst commented: “ESIFs aim to achieve EU priorities in areas such as employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate change and renewable energy.

“The committee wants to ‘follow the money’, by hearing the views of the Scottish Government and local government, as well as those individuals, businesses and organisations who are impacted by ESIF funding.”

Lindhurst said that key questions would be how the 2014-2020 funding is being spent, which areas have benefitted and how are the funds being evaluated as value for money.

The committee will also look at how any future replacement for ESIFs could be used to improve employment, infrastructure and productivity in Scotland’s regions, as well as what opportunities and risks are presented by any replacement fund or programme.

The committee’s call for evidence closes on Friday 13 April and it will share its findings with the Scottish Government at the end of the inquiry.

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