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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:18 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Consumer Affairs) 3:18 pm, 26th June 2019

The lack of clarity and detail over the potential loss of funding three years after Brexit is a cause for general alarm. Those critical funds are extremely important in my constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran, where they fund employability initiatives and measures to tackle poverty and the promotion of social inclusion. Three years later, we still have no idea how much cash the replacement shared prosperity fund will have to distribute. We do not know what charities and voluntary organisations will be eligible for funding. We do not know how the funding will be administered and which programmes that currently benefit from the fund will be left staring a black hole in the face. I urge the Minister to give much-needed and much sought after clarification on this issue. Will we have equivalent like for like replacement funding post-Brexit, and can he guarantee it whether or not the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal? A yes or no would be interesting.

We need answers, we need honesty and of course we need an unequivocal commitment from the Government that the communities who need the fund and who benefit from it will not be sacrificed, abandoned and forgotten as the Government drag us off the Brexit cliff-edge. I remind the Minister that the Government must respect the devolution settlement, and that it is imperative that the UK Government work with all the devolved Administrations to reach agreement on future funding arrangements that make sense for all parts of the UK. I look forward to hearing what he has to say about that. My constituency and country must not be short-changed.