European Union Funding Still Available
The message that money from Europe remains available to support business and employment opportunities in Highland was confirmed at today’s meeting of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee.
Over the years European funding has played a key investment role in the economic development and growth of the Highland economy including safeguarding and creating jobs and helping the area’s most deprived communities seek support.
Currently the Council’s Economy and Regeneration team manage three packages of work which have secured European funding, including:
• Employability Pipeline – support to help unemployed people prepare for and secure employment;
• Business Growth Programme – supporting small and medium businesses to grow; and
• Smart Cities Programme – innovative use of data and technology to improve growth, wellbeing and sustainability.
European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provide EU Member States with financial assistance to deliver the EU2020 strategy of Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, increasing economic activity and employment across the EU.
Although Brexit has created significant uncertainties for the current European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), guarantees have now been secured that European money will, as originally planned, continue at least up to the end of March 2021.
At the same time as extending these guarantees staff from the Economy and Regeneration team have been working with the Scottish Government to improve the programme. This has led to improved flexibility and increased grant intervention rates across the Highlands and Islands.
Chair of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “Securing and safeguarding jobs is a priority which is why the Council is using ESIF money to provide support to individuals and businesses and prioritising sustainable economic growth.
“The news that we can continue using ESIF funding enhances our capacity and that of other Highland based organisations to help people in some of our most deprived and excluded communities access the support they need, create new employment opportunities and assist businesses to grow.”
Subject to match funding availability the Council will now be able to apply and secure European funding during 2018/19 to support its work in business development, employability, Smart Cities and it’s poverty and social inclusion work over the next 3 years.