Sunday, June 16, 2024

SNP accused of ‘unforgivable waste’ of EU cash

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The SNP has been accused of “unforgivable waste” after experts confirmed the loss of at least £134 million of funding because ministers failed to spend it.

Far more EU cash could be squandered due to missed deadlines to allocate funds, analysis from independent Holyrood researchers confirmed.

The SNP had denied reports the Scottish Government was set to hand back £450 million to Brussels, allocated before Brexit to boost the economy or reduce inequality.

It was claimed that Scotland would lose a far higher proportion than England, Wales and Northern Ireland would forfeit from the same pot.

John Swinney, the First Minister, claimed on Sunday the EU funding programmes were ongoing and that he expected “almost all of the funding to be spent”.

However, the impartial Scottish Parliament Information Centre found that £134.2 million had already been wiped from the value of Scotland’s EU structural funds because spending targets set by the European Commission were missed.

As of this month, a further £238.5 million from the reduced pot of £667.3 million was yet to be claimed.

While ministers will apply to recoup some of that cash, £115.9 million has not been allocated to projects ahead of a deadline of December last year.

‘SNP financial incompetence’

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said: “This is just the latest example of SNP financial incompetence.

“At a time when people are crying out for help during a cost of living crisis and our public services are stripped to the bone, it is unforgivable that the SNP is wasting taxpayers money.

“People are tired of the chaos, tired of the sleaze, and tired of SNP politicians not treating Scottish taxpayers’ money with respect.”

Despite no longer being in the EU, Scotland was entitled to European structural funds allocated during a 2014-2020 funding cycle.

The cash is designed to be used to reduce economic inequality. Despite the failure to spend the money, taxes have been hiked on higher earners by the SNP to boost public spending.

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