Skip to main content

Urgent consultation on UK Shared Prosperity Fund needed amid concerns over Scottish funding levels and priority areas

9 July 2021

The Scottish Affairs Committee has called for a consultation to commence by the Autumn on the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). The UKSPF is due to start in 2022 to replace European Structural and Investment Funds following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

While the Committee welcomed initial commitments by the UK Government that there will be a consultation on the design of the scheme, this is yet to come to fruition. It is vital that bodies across Scotland – including local authorities – are consulted given the focus of the UKSPF on local businesses, communities and investing in skills and employment. 

Further, it is unclear how much funding Scotland will receive through UKSPF. While the UK Government has given its assurances that Scotland’s allocation will be the same - or greater – than EU funds, the Committee has called for clarity on how much funding this equates to per year, for the first five years of the scheme. 

EU rural development funding through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), is due to end later this year, and there is a risk that expertise and capacity could be lost due to the ongoing level of uncertainty. Clarity on the replacement initiatives must be provided. 

European Structural and Investment Funds benefited universities across Scotland, with the Committee hearing evidence that EU research grants were 14% higher than those received by universities in the rest of the UK. Its funding allocations to universities in the Highlands ensured more people stayed in the region, boosting its skills and employment opportunities. The Committee has therefore called for the UK Government to prioritise academic research funding when allocating  UKSPF resources, and that it should collaborate with the Scottish Government to ensure structural funding brings significant regional benefits. 

Scottish Affairs Committee Chair, Pete Wishart MP, said: 

“It is no secret that Scotland benefited significantly from EU funds and led to many communities and universities to prosper. While we have been assured that UK replacement funds will match or exceed EU funds, we are yet to see any evidence of this. Nor have we been able to access information on the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund or how locations will be selected to receive grants. 

It is bewildering that there seems to have been no formal consultation and time is fast running out before the UK Shared Prosperity Fund begins next year. Our Committee urges the UK Government to consult urgently and to provide clarity on funding for what could be a vital lifeline for businesses, universities and communities across Scotland.” 

Further information

Image: gunnar-ridderstrom-unsplash