Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – download here
National Islands Plan Consultation – launched and live:
Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – download here
National Islands Plan Consultation – launched and live:
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:
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.
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:
CPMR actions on Cohesion Policy are coordinated by a dedicated working group (the ‘Core Group’).
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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
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.
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 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:
By ensuring future regional policy is place based, there is a chance to:
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!
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 : Scottish Islands Federation – Tiree Report and see some of the presentations and briefings below:
Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin- download here.
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: