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Council Leader calls for Government support in face of Brexit

Posted on 15 Oct 2019

The Scottish and UK Governments must step forward to support the North Ayrshire economy ahead of a potentially crippling No Deal EU exit.

North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane has written to Governments at Holyrood and Westminster to highlight his concerns regarding the impact of a No Deal EU exit on the North Ayrshire economy.

The Council Leader wants funding commitments to support fragile local and regional economies to counteract the impact of a No Deal EU exit.

It is feared that such an exit will send shockwaves through North Ayrshire’s economy – and set back the fight to eradicate poverty and inequality.

Councillor Cullinane has this week written to the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and Local Government Secretary Aileen Campbell, as well as the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack on behalf of the UK Government.

Councillor Cullinane adds: “As was illustrated after the 2008 financial crash, North Ayrshire’s economy lacks resilience and takes longer to recover from economic shocks, this has a longer-term negative impact on the wellbeing of our communities

“I have therefore written to the Scottish and UK Governments to ask them to prioritise any Brexit-related funding to places that need investment most including fragile local and regional economies like North Ayrshire and Ayrshire.”

A recent report from the Centre for Progressive Policy highlighted that North Ayrshire is lagging behind other regions in the UK – with North Ayrshire having the lowest inclusive growth ranking in all of Scotland.

This follows North Ayrshire being overlooked for recent major investments such as the £56million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre and the new Scottish Social Security Agency head offices.

A report for the Council produced by the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde stated that tackling regional inequalities will only be achieved be investing in more fragile regional economies with major investment and national strategic support.

In his letter, Councillor Cullinane adds: “Despite innovative local working by the Council, including developing Scotland’s first approach to Community Wealth Building, it is clear North Ayrshire needs further national economic investment to support its economy and prevent regional inequalities increasing even further.

“If Governments are serious about realising an inclusive economy, all policy and investment decisions should prioritise disadvantaged regions. I have asked both Governments to clearly outline how they will support North Ayrshire, an area where a third of children live in poverty, and with one of the lowest job densities and employment rates in Scotland.”

The Council Leader also called on the UK Government to ensure North Ayrshire benefits from the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a post-Brexit replacement to the existing EU funding regime.

He added: “North Ayrshire has benefited hugely from European funding and we are extremely worried about the lack of detail regarding the UK Government’s proposed replacement funding. The Council and partners are clear that allocations for any replacement need to be made in fair and transparent ways that give priority to the development needs of less prosperous areas – to stop fragile regions like Ayrshire falling even further behind.”