Stirling is set to lose out on hundreds of thousands of pounds of local funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) as a result of Brexit.

Large scale projects such as the Stirling Council LEAP (Learning, Employability and Progression) Programme have been supported through EU Grant funding – the European Social Fund contributed £770,443 to the scheme, which cost £1,618,599 overall. 

With the UK leaving the European Union in 6 weeks, the money from these Funds, which have been used to invest in infrastructure, connectivity and employment across Scotland, will no longer be available to the UK or Scottish Government.

The funds have been available for more than 40 years and invested £5.6billion in the UK.

During the Brexit negotiations the UK government has announced its intentions to replace the scheme but provided no guidance to the Scottish Government on how it would work. Therefore, the Scottish Government has set out its proposals for a Scottish Shared Prosperity Fund (SSPF).

The SSPF will focus on four key areas to improve – empowering places, reducing poverty, enhancing wellbeing and increasing skills, growing business and jobs.

Bruce Crawford MSP said:

‘As we hurtle towards the Brexit trapdoor we are starting to see the devastating impact leaving the EU will have on Stirling’s communities.

‘If the UK government continues on its trajectory of grabbing funding and powers from Scotland then we may never see this money again – the lack of transparency on any future replacement is very worrying.

‘Scotland is once again bearing the brunt of a Brexit we did not vote for as we are dragged out of the EU. An independent Scotland within the European Union would still have access to these funding streams.’

Alyn Smith MP said:
‘As a former Member of the European Parliament for 15 years, I’ve seen first hand the huge benefit EU Funds can have for member states and communities all over Europe.

‘Scotland will no longer have access to such funds as a direct consequence of Brexit – which Stirling and Scotland categorically rejected. To date, proposals from the UK Government on the replacement of these funds have been light on detail, and heavy on the theme of centralised Westminster control over funding distribution.

‘I welcome the Scottish Government’s vision of how to best move forward, and hope to see Stirling’s communities continue to benefit from targeted investment.’ 

Stirling SNP Councillor Evelyn Tweed said:

‘Initiatives funded by the ERDF and ESF like the Stirling Council LEAP Programme have brought real benefits to people here in Stirling, and it is extremely disappointing that we will know longer have access to those funds.

‘The Scottish Government are working diligently to secure a replacement funding structure, to ensure valuable programmes can continue and projects crucial to Scotland’s economic recovery from COVID-19 are supported in future.’

Notes:

Scottish Government news on proposals for replacement funding scheme:
https://www.gov.scot/news/replacement-for-european-structural-funds/

EU Commission information on European Structural and Investment Funds: https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes/overview-funding-programmes/european-structural-and-investment-funds_en

Scottish Government case study on the Stirling LEAP Programme:
https://blogs.gov.scot/european-structural-and-investment-funds/2020/10/16/case-study-andy-stirling-council-european-social-fund/

Stirling Council information on LEAP:
https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/learning-employability/leap-learning-employability-progression/