Ewing: UK Government has to provide clarity on post-EU funding

Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has written to the UK Government to call for guarantees and clear timelines to be provided on plans to replace EU LEADER funding, post-Brexit.


Tue, 06 Mar 2018


Scottish Government

For the past 25 years the LEADER programme has supported our rural communities.

LEADER supports projects to develop local facilities and infrastructure, and helps to create innovative economic development - all of which creates and protects rural jobs and businesses.

In a letter to the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, Mr Ewing emphasised the importance of LEADER funding to Scotland’s rural economy, and reiterated that a gap in funding for Scotland after leaving the EU is unacceptable.

Mr Ewing’s letter said:

“I write to you to press for clarity on the future of EU LEADER funding. LEADER has injected over £93 million in 11 years into the rural economy in Scotland.  A further £130 million of match-funding has been attracted over that period.  That’s a total of £223 million including around 140% of match-funding which will be lost to our rural communities.

“LEADER has been in existence for over 25 years. This important support has helped businesses and communities to kick-start new projects, to develop, innovate, provide new facilities and local infrastructure.  Not to mention the jobs that have been created and safeguarded as a consequence of the funding. The absence of this funding will have a significant negative impact on rural Scotland.

“LEADER is an integral and fundamental part of Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy. Despite further correspondence from the Chief Secretary, there is yet to be clarity of the important details including how “farm support” will be defined and the implications.

“Your ‘Health and Harmony’ consultation paper states that rural businesses will be supported through your proposed Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF). We understand that there is a plan to consult on SFP in 2018, which could well be too late if the UK Government continues on its current course of negotiations,  since it would have to be in place by March 2019 to avoid an unhelpful and potentially deleterious gap in funding.

“My colleague, Economy Secretary Keith Brown, has been calling for engagement in the design and operation of the SFP to ensure it meets the needs of all parts of the UK, as well as respecting the devolution settlements. We have been absolutely clear that Scotland must not be any worse off in respect of the funding allocations that replace those provided from the EU, that they must be ring fenced and focused on delivering inclusive growth

“As with other vital rural payment schemes, there is currently a piecemeal approach to guarantees and timelines which gives little thought  to the impact on our rural communities that such uncertainty creates.  Scotland’s rural communities need the UK Government to provide clarity on these matters - and urgently.

“I am copying this letter to the Cabinet Secretaries for Finance and the Constitution, and Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, as well as to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in recognition of their portfolio interests and on-going correspondence on these matters.”


•LEADER is an EU funding programme co-financed by the Scottish Government

•LEADER is a bottom-up method of delivering support  to communities for rural development. Grants are awarded by Local Action Groups to projects that support delivery of a Local Development Strategy.

•The aim of LEADER is to increase support to local rural community and business networks to build knowledge and skills, and encourage innovation and cooperation in order to tackle local development objectives.

•LEADER is primarily a rural fund - check the Local Development Strategy areas map for eligible areas.

•LEADER is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-20.

•For examples of LEADER projects funded in the 2007-2013 programme check out our Case Studies section and ten Case Studies from across Scotland and Europe highlighted at the Scottish LEADER Conference 2014.



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