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Community / Isles in line to receive almost £1.9m in ‘shared prosperity’ funding

Photo: SIC

SHETLAND is set to receive nearly £1.9 million over the coming few years as part of a UK Government scheme to replace former EU funding programmes.

The government said “funding decisions will be made by elected leaders in local government, with input from local members of parliament and local businesses and voluntary groups”.

A total of £212 million has been earmarked for Scotland through the shared prosperity fund.

Every part of the UK will receive an allocation for the years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The allocation formula for the fund takes into account both the local population data, and a broadly based measure of need, including factors like unemployment and income levels.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said it is vital in the region that “funding support is directed to local priorities”.

“That is why I welcome the work that has been done by the UK Government to create the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund and to cut back the bureaucracy that characterised the old EU structural funds that it replaces,” he added.

But Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said the “devil will be in the detail”.

And the Scottish Government said it “undermines devolution” and “fails communities”, adding that the £32 million allocated to Scotland for 2022/23 is £151 million short of the £183 million estimated to be an appropriate replacement for EU structural funds.

“It is some comfort – albeit no less than we ought to expect – that the government has committed to match past EU funding in the new settlement for Scotland,” Carmichael added.

“The devil will be in the detail and there are already concerns that some sleight of hand may be going on. It should be noted that other parts of the UK are already seeing significant drops in their funding under the new scheme, so we cannot afford to be complacent.”

But the Liberal Democrat said “if managed correctly then there is a genuine opportunity for communities to have more of a say in how funds are dispersed and to benefit more directly from projects”.

He said he will work closely with new councils in Shetland and Orkney to “ensure that the isles get a fair look in when funding is allocated”.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is in addition to other levelling up funding for Scotland, including the fund which Shetland Islands Council has targeted for a new Fair Isle ferry.

Secretary of state for levelling up Michael Gove said: “We have taken back control of our money from the EU and we are empowering those who know their communities in Scotland best to deliver on their priorities.

“The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will help to unleash the creativity and talent of Scottish communities that have for too long been overlooked and undervalued.”