Lismore Stores and Post Office

LISMORE STORES and POST OFFICE, on the delightful Inner Hebridean Island of Lismore, Argyll, needs a new proprietor! Offering a completely different kind of retail experience, this opportunity would be ideal for an energetic couple seeking a rural lifestyle, fully integrated into the island community. Situated near the centre of the island, the Stores is the only Shop, Post Office and off License on the Island. It acts as a Community Hub. With a wide range of stock, built up over many years of local trading, the Stores offers potential for new ideas and adjustments to suit changing conditions.

Full details here: LISMORE STORES (5)

Scottish Government Local Energy Policy Statement: Consultation Events

The Scottish Government’s Local Energy Policy Statement consultation is now live and you can read more about it here.

As part of the process, a series of workshops are being held across Scotland to get the views of a wide-variety of stakeholders.

This inlcudes an Island Webinar Workshop on the 19th November from 1pm-2pm.  Register here.

Other events inlcude:
19 November, 11am – 12:30pm, Inverness.  Register here.

27 November, 11am – 1pm, Dumfries. Register here.

2019 S.I.F Learning Exchange & AGM on Grimsay

1 to 4 October, Grimsay

This year our learning exchange is to Grimsay and we are delighted to be working in partnership with and hosted by CoDeL (Community Development Lense) and Grimsay Community Association.

Population decline and in particular, young people moving away, is as an enormous challenge for many small islands but while in Tiree for our 2018 learning exchange we heard about the young returners to Uist from Thomas and Theona of CoDeL. Over our two days in Grimsay we will learn more about the experience from Uist (and further afield) and its working examples of community-led activity that is contributing to population growth and in particular, investing in and supporting young people.

With the first National Islands Plan soon to be launched we will discuss its implementation and monitoring as well as some policy areas where input is needed to ensure island proofing.

Our S.I.F AGM and EGM and a short wrap up session to agree priorities for the year ahead are planned for 5.30pm on Thursday 3rd October at Grimsay Community Centre.

The learning exchange is running in conjunction with CoDeL’s SMART Islands in Scotland & Ireland: Supporting Enterprises & Young People Project and we very much look forward to sharing island perspectives and ideas with participants from the Irish islands.

We are enormously grateful to the Community Learning Exchange, Scottish Government and LEADER for the contributions that have made the learning exchange possible and enabled members to take part.

Smart Islands and S.I.F full programme

S.I.F Day 1

S.I.F Day 2

Successful Island Plan Consultation!

Island Plan consultation successfully concluded!

First ever island community consultation

Over 1,000 people have contributed to the development of Scotland’s first National Islands Plan through 60 community consultation events on 46 islands.
The Island Plan team travelled by ferries, planes or small boat charter to reach as many island communities in the six island regions of Scotland in just over 3 months. Amazingly only one flight got cancelled through foggy conditions in Orkney!
    
The team met with community groups, Development Trusts Community Councils,  High schools and Primary schools, and even secured the services of an artist to capture the discussions which focussed on what works well in their communities as well as on the challenges they face – such as population retention, economic development, housing, health, environment, transport and digital connectivity.
Sessions lasted about 2 hours, following a methodology tried and tested at the Scottish Rural Parliament, and required the magic ingredients of tea, coffee and cake!

What the minister says:

Commenting on the consultation progress while visiting the Slate Islands of Easdale, Seil and Luing, as part of a programme of island visits last June, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:Last year, the passage of the first ever Act of Parliament aimed specifically at islanders’ needs and the positive contributions made to Scotland by our islands, marked an historic milestone for our islands communities.

We are steadily implementing the provisions of the Act and I am therefore delighted to see so many island residents, and others with an interest in our islands, sharing their views, hopes and aspirations for the future for our islands communities during the consultation on Scotland’s first ever National Islands Plan.

“The consultation, including events that I have been able to see during my visits this week, is ensuring we discuss challenges, learn lessons from policy successes that have been achieved across island communities, and identify factors that contribute to good policy outcomes. The evidence we are gathering will help us to better target public resources to help our islands, with the objective of enabling all who live on our islands to flourish.”

This has been an unprecedented exercise in listening to Scotland’s islanders and it is my sincere hope that this important consultation helps us to project islanders’ voices to Scotland’s policy makers and public bodies and harness the undoubted strengths and resources of islands communities, with the objective of providing the brightest, most sustainable future for our islands communities that, in so many ways, constitute the very best of Scotland.”

Online responses echo community views

360 responses have also been submitted online, by individuals and organisations such as  NFU Scotland. Here is what Lucy Sumsion, NFU’s Argyll and the Islands regional manager has to say: “ Our response set out that the main objective should be to make the islands socially and economically viable places to live and work  for islanders. This include shaping an environment that allows farming and crofting to prosper, and underpin vibrant wider economy that enjoys the same levels of services as the remainder of Scotland.” Her comment certainly echoes the aspirations of many islanders.

Community Impact assessment: a key measure

One of the key measures in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 is to require everyone who makes or designs new polices, strategies or services to consider how these will impact on islands.

Island Communities Impact Assessments will be one way in which relevant authorities can consider the impact of these polices, strategies or services on islands.

The consultation will also provide input to develop guidance  on how these impact assessments will operate. “This was perhaps the most complex aspect of the consultation, but our island communities have not shied away from the challenge of providing an informed response,” reports Sandy Brunton, who led the community consultation process.

We are very proud of the way island community leaders have responded to this challenge so constructively,  going out of their way to ensure good event participation,” said Camille Dressler, who chairs the the Scottish Islands Federation, one of the partner organisations in the National Island Plan consultation together with the Scottish Government and the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance , “ I now have to give all our thanks to Ann MacDonald, our S.I.F director from Tiree, who has masterfully handled the consultation logistics. She has done us proud and helped immensely by providing a blueprint for future island consultation!

Results expected in October 2019

The National Island Team will now get to work to collate the community and online responses over August and September, and aims to present a first draft of the National Island Plan in early October 2019.

There still is time to send your own response – until midnight – by clicking here! 

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