Every six years it’s the same story: delays in European funding mean a funding hiatus that threatens projects, jobs and in some cases whole organisations.
European funding is a huge asset to Scotland and something third sector organisations, particularly in rural areas, depend upon. This isn’t going to make the negotiations for each new programme any faster; after all, it’s the same for every other parts of the European Union.
The problem is that these same conversations takes place every six years, despite everyone knowing that the new programme is never going to be ready to go in April (if Scottish local authorities can’t decide their own spending priorities by 1 April, it would be amazing if the European Council managed it).
The exact priorities for European funding are still up in the air
Scottish third sector organisations are used to living a hand to mouth existence, wrangling for funding each year and fighting to justify expenditure. The Scottish Government knows this and knows that while services run by other sectors can bridge the gap themselves, third sector organisations don’t have that financial capacity.
The exact priorities for European funding are still up in the air, and while there are a range of issues still to be addressed in relation to the third sector’s eligibility, it is important not to overlook the work that this money funds now. Projects where there is a high expectation of continuing eligibility have every right to expect support in the interim period.
The Scottish Government needs to address this issue quickly and effectively, enabling everyone to go back to focusing on the important issue of how new programme funds of nearly £1bn are best spent across Scotland.