In an interview on Good Morning Scotland this morning, Richard Kerley, co-chair of the CSPP and Professor at Queen Margaret University, went into the details of the financial impact of Brexit on local authorities.
Professor Kerley responded to the claim that the UK’s exit from the European Union would leave local authorities across the country with a ‘multi-billion budget black hole’ and, in particular, that Scottish councils would find themselves deprived of 1.8bn in European funding after the end of the Brexit negotiation process.
He argued that these figures should instead be nuanced. First, they ‘extend over a 6-year programme period’. Secondly, it is difficult to assess the real impact of the loss of European Union regional funding in Scotland as a whole, as some local authorities receive more funding than others, such as ‘those in remote and rural areas’ and ‘local authorities in areas of deprivation and industrial decline or industrial restructuring’. In Professor Kerley’s opinion, while European Union funding does represent a considerable sum, its loss is still not an ‘unmanageable’ one. Taking the M8 extension as a visible example of the effect of EU funding in the UK, Professor Kerley observed that in the past year, national sources of funding such as the National Lottery Fund had contributed an amount similar to that derived from the European Union in capital terms.
BBC Presenter Gary Robertson then speculated as to whether ‘cutting out the middle man’ by reinvesting the UK’s contributions directly into local authorities instead of relying on Brussels to redistribute them, might eventually benefit local authorities. This, Professor Kerley replied, was less certain. After Brexit, the UK’s contributions to the European Union will become available for disposition elsewhere, however, he added:
‘Whether that happens is an entirely different matter, and that’s a choice that governments make at Westminster level, and then subsequently at Scottish government level, and then may or may not channel on to local authorities and voluntary organisations.’
Listen to the full interview here (at 7:52).