Written evidence submitted by Scotland’s Rural College (SPF0025)


Submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee Inquiry on ‘Scotland and the Shared Prosperity Fund’

Rural Policy Centre, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)1






Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is pleased to have this opportunity to submit evidence to inform the Scottish Affairs Committee Inquiry on ‘Scotland and the Shared Prosperity Fund’.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) was established in 2012 through the merger of the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) with Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges. Through these institutions, it can trace its lineage back over 100 years.


Today, SRUC is on a journey to become Scotland’s enterprise university at the heart of the sustainable natural economy. Its mission is to create and mobilise knowledge and talent – partnering locally and globally to benefit Scotland’s natural economy.


To achieve this, it draws upon SRUC’s longstanding strengths in world-class and sector-leading research, learning and teaching, skills and training and consultancy (through SAC Consulting). By focussing on the sustainable natural economy, SRUC will strive to lead the way in delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all, in Scotland, and beyond.


Our submission to this Inquiry reflects the focus of SRUC’s work on the rural economy and its communities, and raises a number of issues of particular relevance to rural Scotland and the Shared Prosperity Fund. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these ideas further with the Committee.


Key Issues relating to rural Scotland and the Shared Prosperity Fund


The UK Government and Scottish Government relationship


1 This submission has been prepared by Dr Jane Atterton, Dr Carol Langston and Steven Thomson. For more information, please contact jane.atterton@sruc.ac.uk


spending of EU Structural Funds which were managed and delivered in a devolved way across the UK. The Comprehensive Spending Review in November 2020 confirmed that the Fund will operate UK-wide and will be delivered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department of Work and Pensions.

The role of local authorities



2 For more information, see: Towards a Robust, Resilient Wellbeing Economy for Scotland: Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)


relationships may already be strong but for others they may take time to build and the latter local authorities should not be disadvantaged.

The priorities and focus of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF)



communities to be weighted to reflect these differing priorities, challenges and opportunities and thus avoid a situation whereby small rural and island communities are competing for funding with large urban communities.

EU-funded LEADER Programme



replace ERDF and ESF funding, but the future of EAFRD funding which was the principal fund allocated to land dependant industries and rural communities is more uncertain, and as a result the Scottish Government is proceeding with its own plan to replace LEADER. Ideally, funding for a Scottish LEADER programme should continue  on at least the same level as that provided by EAFRD. However, just as importantly, clarity is required on the future of the ‘LEADER philosophy’ in terms of the approach it advocated based on the principles of undertaking ‘bottom-up’ activity, locally designed and delivered projects meeting local needs, partnership and collaborative working between partners at local level, encouraging creativity and innovation, etc.


May 2021