THE UK Government must step up, respect devolution and honour its commitment to replacing EU funds in full, Ministers from Wales and Scotland have demanded today.
Speaking ahead of the UK Government’s Spending Review, Jeremy Miles and Kate Forbes expressed their frustration that no practical arrangements for the Shared Prosperity Fund have been made by the UK Government, despite EU funding set to tail off at the end of the year.
In contrast, both the Welsh and Scottish Governments published their proposals for the Fund last week, following extensive collaboration and support from local authorities, the private sector, universities and colleges, and the third sector in both nations.
Welsh Government Counsel General and Minister for European Transition, Jeremy Miles 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 re-start 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.
Scottish Government Finance Secretary Kate Forbes 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.”