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House of Commons Hansard
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UK Shared Prosperity Fund
28 January 2019
Volume 653
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2. What recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations on the UK shared prosperity fund. [908830]

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UK Government Ministers meet the devolved Administrations regularly to discuss EU exit matters, and the UK shared prosperity fund has been discussed several times in those conversations. Discussions have also been held by officials with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations and key external stakeholders.

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On 15 November, we were promised details of the replacement for EU structural funds, but more than two months on, groups across the country still have no idea what funding will be available to them after next year. Will the Secretary of State at least assure the House that the Government on this occasion will respect the devolution settlement, and that the Scottish Government’s role in delivering the structural funds will not be subject to a power grab?

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The Government will of course respect the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and we will engage with the devolved Administrations to ensure the fund works for all places across the UK. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the guarantee that has already been given for structural funds through the 2014 to 2020 allocations, and we will certainly continue to discuss those issues with the devolved Administrations and others.

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It is incredibly important that the UK Government do not confine their engagement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to the devolved Administrations. Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that, in developing the UK shared prosperity fund, they will engage fully with businesses and third sector organisations in those three nations?

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We are intending to move forward with the consultation on the UK shared prosperity fund, which will allow everyone to be able to participate—obviously with the devolved Administrations, but with other stakeholders too, as I have indicated—to ensure that this fund is well structured, delivers on the new arrangements for our priorities as the UK as we leave the EU and ensures that those funds are well used.

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Has the Secretary of State taken cognisance of the recommendation of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that the UK Government should at the very least match the £2.4 billion a year that communities across these islands currently receive as a result of EU structural funds?

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We will look very carefully at the representations we receive. Obviously, the UK shared prosperity fund is designed to tackle inequalities between communities by raising productivity following our departure from the European Union, harnessing those opportunities and making sure that we have a new fund—according to our own priorities—that is easier to administer and therefore better able to deliver.

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I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. For the period 2014 to 2020, Scotland received €476 million from the European regional development fund and €465 million from the European social fund. We are losing this because Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against our will. Will he commit today to matching this at the very least, and will he devolve the shared prosperity fund in full to the Scottish Government?

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Obviously, we will consult widely on the UK shared prosperity fund. We still have the spending review to be conducted later this year, but we are determined that, as we leave the European Union, we will have these new funding arrangements in place to deliver for all of our United Kingdom, to raise the sense of opportunity and prosperity, and to make a success.