Brexit: Implications For The Rural Third Sector

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell has responded to a request from Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway’s chief executive for an update on the implications of Brexit.

Norma Austin Hart raised concern about how leaving the European Union would affect access to structural funds and also impact on the sector overall.

A response on behalf of Mr Mundell is printed in full below:

Dear Ms Austin Hart,

Thank you for your letter dated 6 December, to the Secretary of State for Scotland regarding the implications of exiting the European Union to the rural third sector. I have been asked to respond on the Secretary of State’s behalf.

The UK Government appreciates that the rural third sector is concerned about how leaving the EU will affect access to structural funds. The Government has committed to introducing a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), once we have left the European Union and EU Structural Funds. The UKSPF will tackle inequalities between communities by raising productivity, especially in those parts of our country whose economies are furthest behind. This objective will be achieved by strengthening the foundations of productivity as set out in our modern Industrial Strategy to support people to benefit from economic prosperity.

The UKSPF will also be a simplified, integrated fund. EU Structural Funds have been difficult to access, and EU regulations have stopped places co-ordinating investments across the foundations of productivity. Simplified administration for the fund will ensure that investments are targeted effectively to align with the challenges faced by places across the country and supported by strong evidence about what works at the local level.

The UK Government wants to ensure that the views of beneficiaries of EU structural funds are taken into consideration as we design the UKSPF. Officials in the Office for the Secretary of State for Scotland and Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government have been running a series of cross sector stakeholder engagement events across Scotland targeted at practitioner/policy lead level, to discuss lessons learned from EU Structural funds and the UKSPF. Representatives from Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations attended our Glasgow event in November.

The Government has also committed to consult the public on the fund, and the consultation is expected to launch early in the new year.

Regarding the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK Government has pledged to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support for the duration of this parliament, providing much needed certainty to farmers and landowners. Agriculture is devolved and it is for the Scottish Government to set out a future Agricultural policy for Scotland.

The UK Government also welcomes the positive response from the rural third sector to the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal. The Borderlands Deal proposals to Government recognise the priorities of local partners to the importance of the rural third sector in the South of Scotland, and the UK Government looks forward to supporting this rural growth deal.

Yours sincerely,

Constitutional Policy Officer
Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland