IT is often said you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And, as the full effects of Brexit continue to materialise, we become increasingly aware of all the things we’ll be missing out on.

It may be the freedom to travel, work or live in 27 EU member states or perhaps it’s the guarantee of your workers’ rights that entitle you to reasonable working hours, holidays and maternity leave.

READ MORE: Here are 12 examples of what the EU's LEADER funding does for Scotland

No matter what you do, or where you live in Scotland, Brexit will have an impact on you – either directly or indirectly.

There were many issues during the course of the EU referendum campaign that were left completely ignored, perhaps none more so than the impact Brexit is going to have on our rural communities and specifically funding.

The myth emblazoned on the Brexit Bus by the Leave campaign that the UK would have £350 million a week extra to divert to the NHS when it left the EU has been well and truly dispelled.

READ MORE: How an independent Scotland could save remote areas from being left to die

Instead, we are now left counting the cost of withdrawing from the EU with even the UK Government is now forced to admit that we are going to be worse off in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

How does that impact on rural constituencies such as the one I represent in Angus North and Mearns?

Firstly, it will significantly hinder the ability for rural communities to access funding to enhance their environment and improve local transport, tourism and cultural services through LEADER funding.

READ MORE: Architects warn that Brexit is already inflicting massive damage on industry

As a former Convenor of Economic Development in Angus Council, I know just how big the impact of LEADER funding can be to a small rural community.

Angus has received £2.7m through the latest funding tranche (2014-2020) while South Aberdeenshire is benefitting to the tune of £2.8m – but that’s not to mention the extra monies these funds lever in.

Across Scotland there are 21 Local Action Groups tasked with the role of assisting community groups, individuals and local businesses in trying to access LEADER funding to turn dreams into reality, and the financial leverage is massive.

To date the LEADER programme (and the subsequent matched funding) has been worth £223m to Scotland and will have invested in more than 3,500 projects when the current tranche ends in 2020.

The widespread reach and diverse range of these projects is testament to the incredible innovation of our rural communities and many of the LEADER ventures will have a lasting impact.

From glamping pods in Aberdeenshire, to artisan tea across Perth, Angus and Fife, to a build-a-plane initiative for young people in Kinross.

From investment in equipment for a community cinema in Brechin to the Jazz on the Lochs festival in Callander.

And not to mention the funding for community music group DD8 Music in Kirriemuir which helped them grow and develop as an organisation, leading them to create a full-blown festival in honour of AC/DC legend Bon Scott who was from the town.

In 2016, Bonfest pulled in 5,000 visitors to Kirriemuir, a town which has a population of just 6,000, and had an estimated economic impact of £403,000 – getting bigger year on year.

Each and every project has its merit and has a positive impact on local economies, jobs and quality of lives of those living in our rural communities.

Overall, during the last funding tranche of 2007-2013, LEADER funding created 1,500 jobs and provided training for more than 60,000 people in rural areas. The latest funding cycle could outstrip those numbers.

LEADER has helped put the heart and spirit into rural communities.

So what happens now? LEADER funding is only available until 2020 or whenever we exit the EU, whichever comes soonest.

Beyond that the future for funding in our rural communities is far from clear. The only hint we have is from the Conservative manifesto last year where a UK-wide “shared prosperity fund” was mentioned, through which it is proposed the fund will “help deliver sustainable, inclusive growth based on our modern industrial strategy”.

This will, allegedly, involve the extensive consultation of “the devolved administrations, local authorities, businesses and public bodies”.

However, as far as I’m aware, that process has not started, we are still no further in understanding what the fund aims to do, and with just over a year to go until Brexit and two years until the LEADER programme comes to an end, that is a big concern.

Given the clear reluctance on the part of the UK Government to work with the devolved administrations on Brexit to date, I can’t help but feel more than a bit sceptical over the future of rural funding.

Scotland is a predominantly rural country; our estimated rural landscape is 89.1 per cent of our total available land mass, according to the Office of National Statistics.

That statistic alone tells you that rural communities matter and should not be forgotten – or worse still ignored – by the UK Government as it railroads through what increasingly looks like a hard Brexit, against the will of the people of Scotland.

Without funding such as LEADER, our rural communities will suffer, and as someone who has spent my entire life living in a rural area, I am not willing to sit back and let that that happen.