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Report on the S.I.F. Brexit survey

Scotland’s Islands and post-Brexit UK funding: tell us what you think!

The response to our survey was overwhelmingly in favour of Scotland’s running its own regional policy and funding.

See the report at the end of the introduction below.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Following Article 50, the UK Government has announced the setting up of a “Shared Prosperity Fund” to replace the European Structural Funds  (ESIFs). These funds underpin the European territorial Cohesion Policy, which aim to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in all regions.

A cross-party group has looked at how the Shared Prosperity Fund could simply replicate the way ESIFs are allocated, with a simplified bureaucracy. But with no UK regional policy in place, its report pointed out that nearly everything about the Fund is still to be worked out, leaving huge unresolved issues:

  • How much funding will be available?
  • How will it be divided up across the UK?
  • What activities will be eligible for support?
  • Who will take the decisions about how the money is spent?

Here is our chance to give our opinion

Discussing the Shared Prosperity Fund at the Scottish Rural parliament last October, North Ayrshire MP Philippa Whiteford pointed out that only 2% of the fund was intended for the rural economy of the UK, with no indication of what would come to rural Scotland and less favoured areas such as the Highlands and Islands.

The consultation supposed to take place in autumn 2018 for the fund to be in place by 2020 has yet to be done. There is now a huge worry that at the end of 2020, there will be a funding hiatus, with nothing in place to ensure a smooth transition from EU funds on which the rural economy depends.

In Scotland, the National Council of Rural Advisers (NCRA) has come up with ideas for a new rural economy framework that would ensure that transition. Responding to Scottish Government enquiry, Island Councils have also asked that any future funding mechanisms revert back to giving more decision making powers to the regions themselves and the flexibility they feel has been lacking in the last allocation period.

Here is a chance to tell us what a regional policy could look like, and how a Shared Prosperity Fund might operate in Scotland. Your opinion counts and the survey results will be shared with the Scottish government.

SIF Survey report on Post Brexit funding

Future Rural Policy and Support in Scotland: the view from LINK

Future Rural Policy and Support in Scotland: the view from Scottish Environment LINK

LINK Parliamentary Briefing January 2019

Summary

  • This briefing sets out the views of Scottish Environment LINK members for a new, comprehensive and forward-looking process for developing future rural policy and support in Scotland. Any new policy framework should be based on 10 principles, set out in the latter half of this briefing.
  • Scottish Environment LINK members want to see a firm commitment to a robust, well-resourced, transparent and representative process to develop future rural policy and support for Scotland, resulting in a blueprint for policy post-2024.
  • LINK members welcome the motion’s reference to “conven[ing] a group consisting of producer, consumer and environmental organisations to inform and recommend a new bespoke policy on farming and food production for Scotland” as a step in the right direction.

NB -S.I.F.: the motion referred to is Future Rural Policy and Support in Scotland’  presented by Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/01/2019, Supported by Mairi Gougeon

Motion S5M-15279:

That the Parliament acknowledges that future policy for Scotland’s rural economy should be founded on key principles, including sustainability, simplicity, innovation, inclusion, productivity and profitability; recognises that it should seek to maintain flourishing communities, enable farmers and crofters to continue to deliver high-quality goods and services through food production and stewardship of the countryside and Scotland’s natural assets, and encourage diverse land use; calls on the UK Government to deliver a fair allocation of future rural funds to Scotland, including fully replacing all lost EU funding, that will allow development and implementation of a funding support scheme that meets rural Scotland’s needs and interests; further calls on the Scottish Government to convene a group consisting of producer, consumer and environmental organisations to inform and recommend a new bespoke policy on farming and food production for Scotland, and agrees that the Parliament should legislate for future rural policy. 

Context:

Since the EU referendum vote in 2016, a number of parallel groups were formed with different remits:

  • The National Council of Rural Advisors was formed to ‘provide evidence based advice to Scottish Ministers on the implications of Scotland leaving the EU, and to recommend future actions that could sustain a vibrant and flourishing rural economy’;
  • The Agriculture Champions aimed to ‘advise on the development of a strategy for the sector’;
  • The CAP Greening Group chaired by Professor Russell Griggs was tasked to ‘to produce a way forward for greening within the context of the current Common Agriculture Policy and beyond’; and
  • The Simplification Task Force is currently ‘advising on simplifications that could be made to the Common Agricultural Policy’.

Some useful and agreeable recommendations have come from the final reports of the Agriculture Champions, the National Council of Rural Advisors, and the Greening Group. However, despite this number of groups, none have had the representation, transparency, longevity and resources to develop a blueprint for post-Brexit agricultural policy and support, to provide a way forward for Scottish Government and the rural sector.

Next steps for Future Rural Policy and Support in Scotland:

Building on the recommendations made by the above groups, and in parallel to the Simplification Task Force which will focus on sensible changes in the short term, LINK members believe that we need one overarching process, which will firmly set out a recommended way forward for rural policy and support.

LINK members call on Scottish Government to set up a process to research, consult on and design a system of farm support which:

  • helps to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, which Scotland was among the first nations to endorse,and on the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework;
  • meets public policy objectives on the production of healthy food, the provision of a range of public goods, and onthe social cohesion of vulnerable rural areas
  • assists generational renewal and short food chains;is deliverable, equitable (taking into account disadvantages of geography, scale, tenure), auditable and evaluable;
  • ensures that future schemes are designed and delivered so they are understandable and accessible to beneficiaries whilst delivering effectively in the public interest; and
  • is based on the 10 principles outlined below.

This process should be transparent, well-resourced and draw on the expertise and data held by the key research institutes, commissioning specific reports and impact assessments where needed.

The process should be broad and inclusive across the range of public policy objectives on which future rural support will need to deliver. Its work should be supported by a dedicated secretariat provided by Government. The process should result in a blueprint for Scotland’s rural policy and support post-2024, collating and identifying how this new framework will deliver on our public policy objectives that are influenced by the rural sector.

10 Principles for Future Rural Policy:

On 26 September 2018, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing proposed holding a debate in Scottish Parliament to establish the principles that will underpin Scotland’s future farm policy.

LINK welcomes this intention and proposes 10 principles that should underpin future policy and funding development and form the basis for the blueprint developed through the process recommended above.

These principles are at the centre of LINK’s vision for a thriving countryside where:

  • all land managers help to enhance landscapes and biodiversity and where a clean, healthy and wildlife rich environment is regarded both as an asset to society and essential for underpinning economic activity such as farming and forestry;
  • land is adaptable and resilient to climate change, and is used and managed in ways that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation more broadly;
  • people live, and work and rural communities are sustained, with opportunities for young people to work and manage the land, and where new entrants to traditional sectors are encouraged and supported;
  • a broad range of land use and rural business activities offer good livelihoods and employment opportunities. Those who manage the land secure a fair return from it, whether producing traditional products such as food andtimber or delivering public goods;
  • food production is part of a fair, healthy and sustainable food system, from farm to fork, and plays its part in becoming a Good Food Nation
  • the full range of ecosystem services land provides are recognised and valued for their contribution to our economy and to society;
  • land is used and managed in more integrated ways to deliver multiple outputs and benefits wherever possible.

LINK’s 10 Principles for Future Land Management Support in Scotland are: Policy design and delivery must start from an assessment of the environmental, social and economic needs that policy must address. It must draw on rigorous and independent evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the current support regime under the CAP (effectiveness and efficiency). The likely environmental, social and economic impacts (benefits and costs) of proposals for future policies and payments should be modelled and assessed before final decisions are taken.

Principle 1: Evidence-based. The development of future rural and land use support is evidence based.

Policy design and delivery must start from an assessment of the environmental, social and economic needs that policy must address. It must draw on rigorous and independent evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the current support regime under the CAP (effectiveness and efficiency). The likely environmental, social and economic impacts (benefits and costs) of proposals for future policies and payments should be modelled and assessed before final decisions are taken.

Principle 2: Regulation plus. Future payments and policies go above and beyond the regulatory baseline, with at least the current standards maintained and enforced; EU environmental principles are applied, as appropriate.

A wide range of legislation relevant to agriculture – environmental, animal welfare, food safety and employment – is already in force. This is designed to protect the public interest and it must be effectively implemented and enforced. Compliance with regulation by farmers, crofters and other land managers must be a pre-requisite for the receipt of any public funding; any incentives, grants or other payments must deliver additional benefit beyond the baseline standards achieved by regulation. Where universal compliance with new measures is deemed necessary, new regulation should be considered, especially where this relates to key environmental principles. Regulation can be a most effective and equitable way to deliver public goods.

Principle 3: Outcomes focused. All future rural and land use support must contribute to the delivery of defined outcomes, in line with international and domestic aspirations.

Under the current system of land management support, the purpose and desired outcomes for many financial support mechanisms is unclear or poorly specified. Direct payments are paid based on land area and have no correlation with income needs.

In future, the outcomes which land management payments are intended to help deliver on a national level must be clearly defined and set out in a policy coherent way. These outcomes should be drawn from international obligations such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals or the 2020 Aichi targets for biodiversity, domestic ambitions captured in the National Performance Framework and policies such as the Land Use Strategy and the Climate Change Plan. Existing and future international agreements and commitments should continue to be a baseline for the identification of outcomes and priorities; this should be reflected in the rationale for financial support down to the holding level.

An outcomes focused approach will help identify which instruments and approaches are best suited to deliver desired outcomes, including indicators to measure progress. For example, while regulation may be better suited to achieve certain results (e.g. enhance water quality), in other situations, supporting short supply chains or facilitating collaboration may be the most appropriate instrument (e.g. for supporting remote rural communities).

Rigorous audits to identify outcome delivery would also need to be supported to ensure funding mechanisms and financial support is well targeted.

Principle 4: Public money for public goods. Ongoing financial support for agriculture, forestry and other rural land use is based primarily on a principle of public money for public goods.

The strongest justification for using public funding to support farming, crofting and forestry is that these activities can produce a wide range of environmental and social goods and services (public goods) that are not rewarded through markets.

Support to land managers should therefore be tailored accordingly.

The main public goods provided by land management are biodiversity, landscape enhancement, public access, high water quality, air and soil, a stable climate and resilience to flooding. Environmental land management schemes and support for agro-ecological farming systems, including organic and support for High Nature Value farming and crofting, should be the main incentive mechanisms.

In addition to financial support for the delivery of public goods, there is also a case for financial support to facilitate change. Public funding in the form of grants and loans is also justified to support business investment in productivity and resource use efficiency (decoupling production), adaptation and development. Such investments could help improve environmental performance, support diversification, invest in supply chain i

nfrastructure, develop new income streams or improve business efficiency. Funding could be available for purchasing machinery, IT or physical infrastructure, amongst other things, where this offers good value for public money. There may also be scope for other financial mechanisms such as tax breaks to play a role here.

Similarly, supporting investments in research, knowledge transfer, advice and training is another way in which public funds can be utilised. Public funding should support knowledge transfer, advice and training including continuing professional development. This should build on the significant investment of public funds in agricultural, forest and other land use research and do more to ensure the results of this reaches those who could benefit most from it. Low levels of formal education and training in the land use sectors need to be addressed.

Principle 5: Business-based and plan-led. Financial support goes to businesses or groups of businesses in return for undertaking specific activities.

Financial support is not an entitlement that comes with a specific area of land. Applications for financial support are based on plans from businesses or groups of businesses showing what will be delivered as a result of the financial support. The timescale over which support is provided reflects the purpose of that support. Most applications for environmental activity funding will be multiannual.

Principle 6: Knowledge-based sector. Investing in and upskilling an enhanced advisory service, alongside. professional development, is vital to help support the sector as we transition to a new system fit for the 21st century.

Support for training, advice and collaboration should be a serious focus for future policy. Currently, our advisory service lacks capacity and consistency of training on environmental management to robustly support the delivery of public goods. Investing in and upskilling an enhanced advisory service is vital to help support the sector through this period of change as we transition to a new system fit for the 21st century. An enhanced advisory service will create a knowledge-based sector, where expertise is sought and shared to ensure that best practice is continuously implemented.

In addition, currently only 27% of farmers in Scotland have any formal agricultural training2. This is very low for a sector that needs increasingly to embrace innovation and new technologies, be more market orientated and adopt greener farming methods. Much higher rates are likely to be required if the sector as a whole is to undergo transformational change. It is also vital that land management courses at Further and Higher Education level include environmental content and promote agroecological principles within all modules rather than as optional dedicated modules. Continuing Professional Development should become the norm for those working in the farming and land use sectors and be a requirement for receiving public money.

Principle 7: Transparency and accountability. All farm and rural support payments will be transparent and accountable, with information regarding beneficiaries and the amounts received being in the public domain and freely available.

Funding for farming and rural areas is likely to be under increasing public scrutiny in future given demands on public finances. How such money is used should be subject to audit. Information on who receives support, for what purpose and the amount, should be published annually on the Scottish Government website.

Principle 8: Access and equity. Payments and support measures will be accessible to all land managers subject to rules and eligibility criteria.

A tiered system of support including public goods, business adaptation, development support, and measures supporting knowledge transfer, advice and training should be accessible to all farmers, crofters, foresters and other land managers – including those managing less than 3 hectares – subject to defined rules and eligibility criteria.

The rates of payment for delivering public goods may vary to reflect the variable costs incurred, for example by smaller businesses or businesses operating in remote areas. The rates of intervention to support investments in productivity efficiency, innovation and business support may vary to reflect the ability of businesses to fund these investments from their own resources.

Principle 9: Flexibility and differentiation. Delivery models for future funding mechanisms are regionally tailored, flexible and plan-led.

Funding is tailored to regional circumstances and farming and land management systems, with jointly agreed regional land use frameworks setting priorities for public support and investments.

A degree of flexibility should be allowed in how funding is applied at business level, contingent on the desired outcomes being met. Such flexibility should be facilitated by the adoption of a plan-led approach whereby each business completes a holding-level land management plan setting out objectives, intended outcomes and which funding mechanisms and funding are required to meet them.

There should be flexibility, particularly in remote and island areas where there is a demonstrable social or environmental need to continue farming land which cannot yield an economic return, to agree bespoke land management contracts which provide a sustainable livelihood.

Principle 10: Monitoring and evaluation. The impacts and outcomes of financial support will be regularly monitored and evaluated, and the results used to inform future policy development.

Looking at existing policy, the monitoring of current policies and funding under the CAP and evaluation of their impacts and outcomes – especially in relation to Pillar I payments – is poor. This must be addressed in future. Sufficient funding must be allocated to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation for all future financial support, including establishing baseline data, assessing impacts and outcomes and reporting on progress. Such monitoring and evaluation will provide an evidence base to improve performance and inform further policy development.

This LINK Parliamentary Briefing is supported by the following member organisations: Buglife Scotland; Butterfly Conservation Scotland; Nourish  Scotland; RamblersScotland;  RSPBScotland ScotFWAG; WWF Scotland

Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment organisations, with over 35 member bodies representing a range of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society.

For more information on the above, contact: Pete Ritchie, Leader of the LINK Food and Farming Subgroup: pete@nourishscotland.org.uk or Daphne Vlastari, LINK Advocacy Manager: daphne@scotlink.org, 0131 225 43 45 www.savescottishseas.org

 

 

UK to lose potential 13 billions euros of development funds through Brexit

New analysis from the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) estimates that the United Kingdom would be entitled to approximately 13 billion euros of regional development funding for the 2021-2027 period should it stay in the European Union.

The CPMR carried out a projection of the theoretical share of European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund + funding for the United Kingdom for the 2021-2027 period if it remained a member of the European Union.

This projection, based on the European Commission’s allocation methodology for the ERDF and ESF+ funds, shows that the UK regions and nations would be entitled to an increase of 22% for the 2021-2027 period, compared to the allocation of 10.6 billion euros for 2014-2020.

This increase can largely be explained by the fact many areas of the UK are falling behind the EU average in terms of regional prosperity.

According to the CPMR projection, Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly and West Wales & the Valleys, the two regions in the UK currently classed as ‘less developed regions’ under the European Commission’s eligibility rules, would still stand to receive a significant share of the UK allocation of Cohesion Policy.

In addition, the regions of South Yorkshire, Tees Valley & Durham and Lincolnshire would also become less developed regions for the 2021-2027 period. All five of these regions would stand to receive EU support in excess of 500 euros per capita for the seven-year period.

The CPMR projection also shows that regional disparities in the UK are increasing. There are significant differences in aid intensity (funds per capita) from Cohesion Policy from one area to another.

The difference between Inner London, the UK’s richest NUTS II region with a regional GDP average of 614% of the EU average, and West Wales and the Valleys, the UK’s poorest with a regional GDP of 68% of the EU average, is particularly striking and a unique case in Europe.

CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said:Our analysis provides clear evidence that Brexit would be disastrous for the regional development of UK regions. In CPMR we stand by our UK members and share their concerns on the persistent regional disparities that will be further aggravated.”

Read the CPMR analysis ‘UK entitled to €13bn regional funding if it remains in EU

The CPMR is a European organisation representing the interests of 160 regions from 25 countries from the European Union and beyond. The UK Members of the CPMR include the Welsh Government, several local authorities in Scotland including the Scottish Island Councils, and Cornwall Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in England. It carried out this exercise in the context of the uncertainty of Brexit, and it forms part of a broader body of work carried out by the CPMR on Cohesion Policy funding mechanisms to understand the impact of the negotiations for the benefits of its Members.

Striving for enhanced territorial cohesion

Cohesion Policy is the main EU investment policy which aims at reinforcing economic, social and territorial cohesion in all regions.

The policy is delivered mainly through regional programmes and projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund. Cohesion is therefore at the core of CPMR’s activities.

CPMR advocates for a territorial investment policy to reinforce economic, social and territorial cohesion in all regions based on strong multi-level governance arrangements in partnership with regions and their citizens at its core.

A regular partner of the EU institutions, CPMR participates in the European Commission expert group on Structural Funds, the Network of Territorial Cohesion Contact point meetings and the Informal EU Council on Cohesion, and has a long-standing working relationship with the European Parliament.

CPMR is also a member of the S3 Platform Mirror Group and the Future of Cohesion working group at the Committee of the Regions.

The main areas of are:

  • A reinforced and legitimised role for Regions within Cohesion Policy
  • The role and impact of financial instruments within Cohesion Policy
  • Reducing the administrative burden and simplifying the Policy
  • A well-resourced Cohesion Policy for all Regions

CPMR actions on Cohesion Policy are coordinated by a dedicated working group (the ‘Core Group’).

Towards a new road map for the Scottish rural economy

Towards a new road map for the Scottish rural economy

An Island Perspective – Help Shape the Debate

Amid the Brexit chaos, it is more important than ever for islanders to express strongly their opinion on how future regional policies should be shaped. 

Building on Brexit discussion at our 2018 AGM in Tiree, S.I.F is pulling together an island position paper –  please help shape the debate by responding to  our survey We hope the post and links below will provide a good background for your response! 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DNGDBFF

No real regional policy in place at present

Brexit is actually providing a real opportunity to look at what rural and regional policies really look like in the UK and Scotland.

The conclusion is that in many respects EU Policies have acted as a proxy for UK and Scottish regional policy:  it is fair to say that in the absence of a UK national regional policy, economic development in Scotland both at regional and local level has in large measure been delivered through eligibility for European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) support as well as the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) and the EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund).

ESIFs include the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Their aim is to reduce disparities between regions in the EU through its Territorial Cohesion Policy.  This policy has the objective of aligning living standards across the various European regions.

About a third of the EU budget goes into these funds: Over the years, this has had a major impact in terms of reducing social and economic disparities.

In Scotland this money currently provides between 10 and 25 per cent of local authority economic development and employability spend. In the case of a less favoured area – a transition status area like the Highlands and Islands – ESIFs have also been a significant driver in transforming the economic and social wellbeing of our region with £1.5 billion invested up to now.

Support to our rural areas

The importance of Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP) funding to the Scottish agriculture sector must not be underestimated, with support payments in 2016 contributing over 65.42 per cent of the total income from farming in Scotland.  For the Less Favoured Area sheep sector such as in the Highlands and Islands, CAP support was 230 per cent of Farm Business Income. The importance of EU CAP Pillar 2 funding through the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP)  was key in creating and safeguarding over 30,000 jobs as well as improving business efficiency, output, quality and competitiveness under the previous programme.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund ( EMFF) has provided crucial support for fisheries, aquaculture, the processing sector supporting communities and jobs that depend on them.

The LEADER approach (currently funded from EMFF and SRDP) has also played a unique role in enabling local partnerships to foster innovation and invest in their local development priorities, including local economies. LEADER funding has also fostered collaborative working between Scotland and others across the UK and EU.

So regardless of Brexit or the form of Brexit, it is time to step  back and consider how policies, programmes and funding can better serve the needs of our rural society, rural economy and environment.

A very sketchy UK Shared Prosperity Fund: 

Unfortunately, there has been little opportunity for UK wide joined up thinking on this issue.  Following the UK exit from the EU, the UK Government has announced the setting up of a “Shared Prosperity Fund” to replace ESIFs.

A cross-party group has looked at how the Shared Prosperity Fund could simply replicate the way ESIFs are allocated, with a simplified bureaucracy. But with no regional policy in place, its report pointed out that nearly everything about the Fund is still to be worked out, leaving huge unresolved issues:

  • How much funding will be available?
  • How will it be divided up across the UK?
  • What activities will be eligible for support?
  • Who will take the decisions about how the money is spent?

Discussing the Shared Prosperity Fund at the Scottish Rural parliament last October, North Ayrshire MP Philippa Whiteford pointed out that only 2 per cent of the fund was intended for the rural economy of the UK!

There is still no indication of what proportion of the fund will come to rural Scotland and less favoured areas such as the Highlands and Islands.

A new Scottish Rural Economy Framework 

The consultation supposed to take place in autumn 2018 for the SP fund to be in place by 2020 has yet to be done. There is now a huge worry that at the end of 2020, there will be a funding hiatus, with nothing in place to ensure a smooth transition from EU funds on which the rural economy depends.

However, a lot more thinking has been done in Scotland. Responding to consultation by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, Island Councils have unanymously asked that any future funding mechanisms revert back to giving more decision making powers to the regions themselves and the flexibility they feel has been lacking in the last allocation period. In many respondents’ opinion, the centralisation at Scottish government level occurring in the 2014-2020 period has had a negative effect, resulting in less funding uptake  then previously.

Consultation responses to Rural Thinks workshops by the National Council of Rural Advisers (NCRA),  have led to new ideas for a new rural economy framework that would ensure this much needed  transition to a throughly thought-out and appropriately designed  rural policy for Scotland that would support each of its regions appropriately.

3 policy recommendations 

The NCRA report –  a new blueprint for Scotland’s rural economy – outlines how a change in mindset, culture and structure is required and  has 3 recommendations for this to happen.

1/ a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive rural economy can only be achieved by recognising its strategic importance – and effectively mainstreaming it within all policy and decision-making processes.

2/   an interim Rural Economic Framework ( REF) should be developed, aligned to the National Performance Framework.

“The REF will provide a structure to enable transition, including the development and implementation of a new approach and delivery model for rural policy, development support and investment. We have the opportunity to remove the complexity and lack of understanding surrounding rural support by clearly linking it to the achievement of national outcomes: ensuring it is well understood, accepted and celebrated for improving national economic prosperity and wellbeing.”

3/ a Rural Economy Action Group ( REAG) should be created, which has the clout to get things done and set the tone for change. This would be “a mechanism by which we can hold each other to account and maintain the momentum.”

Targeted support for the rural economy

Action 4 of the new blue print is to look at targeted support and the development of credible finance models. Here are the actions recommended:

  • Scottish Centre for Inclusive Growth must assess the credibility of measurement tools for identifying small/micro business activity in the rural economy
  • Ensure equitable access to finance for rural communities and businesses, including a simplified grants system
  •  A Rural Challenge Fund for communities and small/micro-enterprises to be established in 2019, to ensure no hiatus in LEADER, EMFF and other Rural Development Programme funding
  • The National Investment Bank Strategy and Implementation Plan must consider the REF outcomes, ensuring an accessible offering for rural businesses, particularly small and micro-enterprises
  •  Inward investment plans must encourage sectoral diversity, recognising the opportunities for growth in non-traditional rural industries
  • Address the rural gender pay gap by providing female-focused enterprise programmes and support for women returning to the workforce
  •  Develop a strong and adequately financed policy and delivery framework to ensure a sustainable funding position post Brexit.

Read more about the  new rural economy framework

Read more about the shared prosperity fund  

Read more abouthe need for a future post Brexit regional policy.

Read more about of the CPMR’s analysis on losses to the UK regions through Brexit 

UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the view from the All Party Parliamentary group

Report of an initial inquiry into the UK      SHARED PROSPERITY FUND

November 2018

Why an APPG on Post-Brexit funding?

An  All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Post-Brexit Funding for Nations, Regions and Local Areas was established in Westminster in June 2018. It is chaired by  Stephen Kinnock MP (Lab) and its Vice-Chairs are Bill Grant MP (Con), Chris Stephens MP (SNP), Jo Platt MP (Lab) and Anna McMorrin MP (Lab).

The aim of the group is to help shape plans for the UK funding that is intended to replace the EU funding for national, regional and local economic development that will disappear following Brexit.

At its inaugural meeting the Group initiated an Inquiry to assess the views of stakeholders in the parts of the UK that currently benefit substantially from EU funding.

The aim was to produce a report that could be fed into government at an early stage to try to influence the UK government’s proposals, which were expected to be set out in a consultation in late 2018.

The issue is how will EU funds be replaced

The Conservative manifesto for the 2017 general election promised to set up a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the EU funds. The intention is that the new Fund will “reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations” and that the Fund will be “cheap to administer, low in bureaucracy and targeted where it is needed most”.

A written statement to Parliament from Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP, on 24 July 2018, confirmed the commitment to the new Fund but added little detail. Nearly everything about the Fund is still to be worked out leaving huge unresolved issues:

  •   How much funding will be available?
  •   How will it be divided up across the country?
  •   What activities will be eligible for support?
  •   Who will take the decisions about how the money is spent?The replacement for the EU funds is entirely a domestic UK matter. It does not depend on negotiations with Brussels. Nor does replacing EU funds necessarily require ‘new money’. In theory there is more than enough available to pay for the Shared Prosperity Fund from the funds that will no longer be paid over to the EU, though there are of course competing claims on this pot.

Who responded to the inquiry?

The APPG has received 80 submissions from an exceptionally wide range of organisations and locations. The list includes local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the TUC, Mayoral Combined Authorities, devolved administrations and others. Several of the submissions were made on behalf of large coalitions of partners, in the North East for example. The geographical spread includes responses from all four nations of the UK.

APPG recommendations

Overall budget

  • The annual budget for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund should be no less, in real terms, than the EU and UK funding streams it replaces.
  • The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should operate on the basis of multiannual financial allocations of the longest practicable duration.
  • If other existing budget lines were to be included in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund the total budget of the new Fund should be increased by the full value of those additional budget lines, and the present rules on matching finance for projects should be adjusted accordingly.

Allocation across the country

  • For the moment, the UK government should adopt a pragmatic approach and roll forward the four nations’ existing shares of EU funding into the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
  • the UK government  should recognise that, within the framework of agreed guidelines, the allocation of the funding to local areas within the devolved nations should be a devolved matter.
  • The UK government should deploys a robust formula, using up- to-date statistics, to allocate the UK Shared Prosperity Fund within England.
  • If any element of competitive bidding were to be incorporated into the UK Shared Prosperity Fund it should be marginal to the main formula-based allocation.
  • Sub-regions, most probably revised LEP areas, should remain the basis for financial allocations to areas within England.

Activities to be supported

  • The government’s intention to make narrowing the differences in prosperity across the UK the key objective of the new Fund should be supported.
  • Local partners should be given flexibility to define the types of projects on which the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is spent, so long as the activities remain consistent with the wider objectives of the Fund.
  • Requirements to fund specific activities should be kept to a minimum, but we would also expect the spending plans of local partners to be a balanced portfolio.

Management

The APPG expects the UK government to respect the devolution settlement and therefore any guidelines for the Fund as a whole should be kept at a strategic broad level and agreed jointly between the UK government and the devolved administrations.

  • Within the framework of the agreed guidelines, the UK government should transfer responsibility for the detailed design and delivery of the relevant parts of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to the devolved administrations and their partners.
  • Reflecting this devolved responsibility, the Fund should be re-branded to reflect the four nations, i.e. UKSPF England, UKSPF Scotland, UKSPF Wales and UKSPF Northern Ireland.
  • There should be a strong emphasis on allowing local partners to define and measure target outcomes.
  • The UK government and devolved administrations should work with local players to seize the opportunity to design a simplified administrative structure that works.
  • The management structures for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund should make greater efforts to engage local authorities.
  • The monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects should aim to build on the experience with EU funding.

You can read the full report here

Towards a future post-brexit regional policy for Scotland

 Post Brexit regional UK policy: is there one?

In many respects EU Policies have acted as a proxy for a UK regional policy.

Through the EU Territorial Cohesion Policy,  European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have been used to support economic development in Scotland both at regional and local level.

EU Regional Policy and funding have had a major impact in terms of reducing social and economic disparities. They have been a significant driver in transforming the economic and social wellbeing of the Highlands & Islands with £1.5 b invested up to now.

But after exiting the EU, UK regions including the Highlands and Islands will no longer be able to access the ESIF funds.

Post Brexit, the UK Government have announced that the so called Shared Prosperity Fund will replace ESIF funds. However, there is little clarity or detail supplied on the way the Shared prosperity fund will operate and on which the basis the funds will be distributed.

Why there should be one?

Estimates are that the Shared Prosperity Fund may only have 2% devoted to the rural economy, so the proportion of what will actually come to Scotland is still unknown.

The question is  whether it can be shared equally and fairly if there are no regional policy at UK and Scottish Government level.

The Scottish Rural Parliament made a clear statement on Brexit, calling for a clear and direct UK and Scottish Government’s commitment to equality for rural people, places and enterprise in Scotland, as well as reassurance through clear commitments that the UK and Scottish Government will continue to meet the needs of rural people, places and enterprises.
Read the Scottish Rural Parliament statement here.

Scotland’s Islands and Highland deserve         a coherent regional policy and support

The policy paper by HIEP – Highland and Islands European Partnership- sets out a vision for a future regional policy for Scotland that would address these concerns:

  • A future Regional Policy needs to empower the region to contribute to UK and Scottish economic growth, while recognising permanent and long term challenges.
  •  A future Regional Policy  development and delivery needs to be led by devolved administrations and regional stakeholders
  • A future regional policy needs a long term strategic focus, maximising regional economic potential that is sustainable and inclusive.
The HIEP paper calls for a need to recognise and respond to regional disparity.
  • A future regional policy should focus on regions with the greatest challenges
  • Clear and objective criteria are required, considering spatial scale and definition of selected regions.
  • There is an opportunity to consider more sophisticated selection criteria, beyond GDP per capita, for example, population sparsity, employment /participation rates, average wage levels, skill levels, economic concentration, “remoteness”, “fragility”.
  • Funding will need to be available over the
    long term at a level commensurate with the scale
    of challenge and opportunity, rather than short
    term, one-off allocations of funding.
  • Regional stakeholders should have an input to address
    the specific regional challenges and capitalise on regional opportunities.

Regional policy should be place-based

By ensuring future regional policy is place based, there is a chance to:

  • Enhance the region’s physical and digital connectivity.
  • Provide investment in sectors / clusters where the region has competitive advantage, such as marine energy and life sciences – regional Smart Specialisation.
  • Investment in new technologies, particularly  the “Local Energy Economy”
  • attract and retain talent, recognising that this is multi-faceted, including employment, education, housing, connectivity and transport.
  • Invest  in education and skills infrastructure and provision to match the future needs of the regional economy.
  • Invest in community capacity building and resilience, leading to strong, vibrant communities.

Now is the time!

HIEP  stresses that how important it is that lessons learned from our collective experience of EU programmes are captured and inform the development and delivery of successor domestic programmes.
HIEP is also stressing that time is running out. “The current structural funds programmes end in 2020 and now is the time to develop future regional policy to avoid a damaging hiatus in Regional Policy and support”, concludes their paper.
You can read the full HIEP position paper here.

 

 

Scottish Rural Parliament: the final Brexit statement

          The Scottish rural Parliament

Engaging Scotland’s rural communities on Brexit

Policy Statement

WE CALL FOR:
1. Clear and direct UK and Scottish Government’s commitment to
equality for rural people, places and enterprise in Scotland.          Rural and island communities in Scotland are fearful that our needs are unheard and will be unmet in the future by the UK and Scottish
Government, which can feel distant and removed from our
day to day lives. The EU brings a long history of support for peripheral rural and island areas which has had a significant impact on the sustainability and development of rural areas. We need reassurance through clear commitments that the UK and Scottish Government will continue to meet the needs of rural people, places and enterprises.
2.Responsive government and connected political leadership
that engages with rural communities with regard to Brexit.
There is a climate of uncertainty with a number of negative impacts,
including an increasing lack of confidence now and in the future,
leading to risk-aversion and apathy amongst rural businesses
in particular. We need to see demonstrable and effective leadership that brings clarity and provides security to build confidence.
3. Reassurances that both the UK and Scottish Government will attract migrant workers and their families. There is deep concern in a number of sectors including tourism, health and agriculture that migrant worker numbers have already decreased to critical levels in some areas and will continue to decrease after Brexit. Current
and future migrant workers and their families need to feel welcomed and have the right to remain. Processes to accept workers post Brexit need to positively empower by being accessible and straightforward. The Scottish Government should use its devolved powers to proactively attract and support workers from all communities.
4. Funding allocations to be made on an equitable basis for rural
Scotland. There is concern about the level of resources that will be
available to Scotland from the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund
post- Brexit and a fear of increasing centralisation around resource allocation that would mitigate in favour of urban rather than rural
areas. Recognising specific challenges and opportunities to remote, rural and island communities, consideration requires to be given to a fair and equitable distribution of resources to Scotland.mThere needs to be ring-fenced funding for rural areas and priorities
in the budget process moving forward.
5.Place-based rural community and economic development
The L EADER and EMFF place-based, grassroots approach
has contributed significantly to the fabric of Scottish rural
life and economic development for over 20 years.  At a time where
rural communities are under most pressure, it is essential that steps
are taken to secure the future of this approach andthe funding that came with it from the European Union.
6. Government support to celebrate cultural diversity, community cohesion and resilience. There needs to be government support to promote the principles of wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity
throughout society recognising the distinctive nature of our rural communities. There is a consensus that Brexit is interpreted by some as a valid platform for openly expressing views with a negative impact on cultural diversity. This includes the behaviour of politicians at a UK level around Brexit which has diminished public confidence and trust in national government leadership, ultimately impacting on perceptions of politicians in general. This is particularly the case in relation to immigration issues. A proactive approach is needed to develop community cohesion and address concerns of racism and xenophobia, and a clear message should be sent
that this behaviour is not to be tolerated.
7. The UK Government to respect and commit to working with devolved governments throughout the transition from EU membership. It is evident that Scotland and the other UK devolved governments are being excluded from decision-making throughout the Brexit negotiations and will continue to be excluded through the re-shaping of policy post-EU membership. This contributes to a sense of ongoing powerlessness in rural communities. The voice of ruralcommunities in Scotland can only be heard if the voices of our elected officials and unelected people are heard and respected,
and approaches to participatory democracy are used to ensure we
feel valued, respected and listened to. Devolved powers and responsibilities should remain devolved.
8. The recognition of the importance of an independent voice for rural communities  in Scotland. An independent mechanism is essential to enable all voices of rural Scotland to be heard at
every level and the appropriate forums to shape national policy for rural Scotland. Scottish Rural Action has emerged as a key voice for rural communities and requires appropriate resourcing and support
to fulfil its potential.
9.Recognising that Brexit will have a detrimental effect on existing
poverty and hardship in rural Scotland. We want rural communities to continue to have a strong collective voice, decision-making powers and investment to enable us to thrive andaddress the challenges of rural poverty, hardship and de-population in their own unique ways.
10. Valuing and maximising the diversity of the rural economy
The contribution of a diverse rural economy needs to be recognised as keyto Scotland and the UK, with its high levels of talent, entrepreneurship and assets. There is concern that the historic and current neglect and continuing decline of some areas is not recognised. It is essential that the policy is sustainable, valuing collaboration and maximising the opportunities and connections between sectors and communities.

S.I.F. AGM: Tiree, 18-20 September 2018

Scottish Islands Federation

2018 AGM & Learning Exchange

18-20 September 2018, Tiree

Empowering Small Island Communities – Learn from each other and have your say

What a rich and inspiring time we had in Tiree. Over the three days, thirty-two islanders representing twenty different islands came together to learn from each other and debate a wide range of topics including the Islands (Scotland) Act, Crown Estate, Brexit, Housing, Social Care, Marine Plastic, Tourism, Energy, Population & Demographics as well as a strategy session for S.I.F.

A very productive few days despite Storm Ali – and we would like to thank everyone that was able to attend, contribute and help out. We would also like to thank the Community Learning Exchange which made it possible for many of us to be there along with our funding contribution from the Scottish Government.

You can read the full report here and view some of the presentations and briefings below:

Keynote address by Michael Russell MSP

access the video link here

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Young returners turning the tide of island population trends

In a great piece of news, a recent study of young people on the islands that stretch from Eriskay to Berneray has shown that, against the trend of many areas, young islanders are staying on the islands and returning home.

A wide range of factors seem to be behind this very welcome trend and you can read the full article here – Young returners to Uist press release 04 Apr 18 (2)

Are you seeing a similar trend on your island or is it going the opposite way – let us know.

The research has sparked much interested and you can see some further coverage here:

Herald story on young people and Uist 16 Apr 18

The Herald on why young people settling on Uist