Local politicians have raised concerns over the cost of Brexit on South and East Ayrshire council areas, as the potential costs to the UK’s economy from leaving Europe continue to pile up.
Figures obtained from East Ayrshire Council indicate that almost £4m of EU funding has been allocated to support employability pipelines, employment support for young people and SME business growth until 2020. These funds are on top of close to £2m of LEADER funding distributed to East Ayrshire projects every five years.
In South Ayrshire more than £2.5m of European funds have been allocated by the local authority to employability, youth employment and business growth and support, and LEADER funding until 2020 was expected to be in the region of £5.8m. With the likely timescale for the exit from the European Union to be two years from the date that the exit is formally triggered, funding beyond 2018 may be at risk.
Corri Wilson, MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, said: “These figures bring home the magnitude of the Brexit vote. Councils across Scotland will be watching closely to how this situation develops over the coming months, particularly in terms of European funding sources.
“While the UK Government talks about Brexit meaning Brexit, the only certainty here is uncertainty. Councils are struggling to plan ahead or take steps to mitigate the impact of the potential loss of EU funding, and the hundreds of small community projects who rely on LEADER funding are facing a difficult future.
Jeane Freeman, MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said: “The people of Ayrshire, like the rest of Scotland, voted to stay in the EU. Here in Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley we have benefited significantly from EU membership over the years, particularly in support for small businesses, employment opportunities for our young people and from the skills and talents of those from other EU countries who have chosen to make their home here and contribute to our communities.
“All of that is now at risk, and we can take no comfort from the UK Government’s failure to provide answers to the most basic of questions about what they plan to do. We need clarity and leadership, and a route-map for Scotland’s continued membership of the free market, security for those who have made our communities their home and the other EU safeguards that protect us.”