Welsh and Scottish Ministers demand devolution respect over replacing EU funds
Ministers in the Scottish and Welsh administrations have called for the UK Government to respect devolution when it comes to replacing EU funding.
Both devolved governments published proposals for the Shared Prosperity Fund last week with the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Jeremy Miles, the Welsh Government’s Brexit Minister, expressing frustration at no such publication from Westminster thus far.
Ms Forbes has also called on the UK Government to use Wednesday’s Spending Review to prioritise public services in a new, UK-wide package worth £98 billion.
She said: “I have made clear to the UK Government that I am deeply concerned that I am yet to see any evidence that they are committed to replacing EU funding in full or to engaging meaningfully with the devolved nations across a number of programmes including fisheries, structural funds and competitive programmes such as Erasmus Plus and Horizon Europe.
“The proposals we published last week for a Scottish Shared Prosperity Fund were produced following 12 months of consultation and with the support of an expert Steering Group.
“We are now working to develop the fund involving key partners, especially local authorities, to ensure Scotland’s unique needs and priorities are met.
“The UK Government has previously committed to full replacement of all lost EU funds and the Scottish Government expects to maintain full control over this funding.
“Ongoing attempts by the UK Government to undermine the devolution settlement in relation to powers and funding will continue to be resisted vigorously.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to use the Review to announce a multibillion-pound plan investing in long-term infrastructure projects while also funding the fight against the coronavirus pandemic as the UK’s exit from the European Union looms large.
Mr Miles, Welsh Counsel General, also said: “The UK Government must make good on promises repeatedly made that Brexit would not mean any loss of funding and that the devolution settlement would be respected.
“Our proposals have been developed over three years with stakeholders from local government, further and higher education, and the private and third sectors; have been informed by expert advice from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development and have been subject to an extensive process of public consultation.
“As a result, we have a framework to restart investment programmes early next year – provided UK ministers honour their commitments.
“The lack of transparency and collaboration that the UK Government has shown to date must now end, so that Wales gets the clarity it needs and the commitment to work through the Welsh Government which the devolution settlement demands.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will bind together the whole of the UK while tackling inequality and deprivation.
“For the first time in decades, we have a chance to do things differently and target our investment at those who need it most.
“We will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations and other interested parties as we develop the fund.
“Further details will be set out following the upcoming Spending Review.”