A POT of cash to replace €1 billion of European funding, currently distributed by the Scottish Government, will be controlled by Westminster after Brexit, a Tory minister has signalled.

The bombshell announcement made by James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government was last night attacked by third sector organisations and the SNP who say it is new evidence of a Tory power grab on Scotland.

The European Structural and Investment Funds are worth €1 billion to Scotland and help a wide range of projects including initiatives to address poverty, improve infrastructure and the environment and tackle pollution.

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But Brokenshire told MPs the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which will replace them will be run by the UK Government who will “engage” the devolved administrations.

The National:

“The UKSPF will operate across the UK. The government will of course respect the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will engage the devolved administrations to ensure the fund works for places across the UK,” he told MPs.

Alasdair Allan MSP, whose Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency benefits significantly from European Structural Funding, said it was an example of “the billion-euro Tory power grab in action”.

He added: “European Structural Funding has helped to create employment, build roads and infrastructure and help tackle unemployment in every corner of Scotland – particularly in some of our most remote communities.

“To replace this with a system administered entirely by Westminster, instead of here in Scotland, would be completely unacceptable.

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“Given their recent form in seeking to tear up the devolution settlement, there would be little reason to trust the Tories.”

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), has hit out.

She told Third Force News: “The SCVO has been consistent in our position that powers returning to the UK from the EU should be devolved so that Scotland’s needs can be considered and reflected in decision-making.

“The UK Parliament has promised engagement with devolved administrations on these matters before but their track record suggests they are more interested in England’s priorities and not at all concerned with those of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.”

Maggie Lennon, director of the Bridges Programmes in Glasgow which supports refugees and asylum seekers, said Scotland should be managing the new fund not simply consulted.”Scotland should not merely be consulted on this new fund – Scotland should be managing it,” she said. “Scotland will get a smaller share, is not a priority for Westminster, and jobs and services for some of our most vulnerable people and regions will be at risk.”

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The ESIF scheme is currently handled by Scottish ministers. Money is allocated on a six year basis with the 2014 to 2020 funds for Scotland worth €476 million and €465m respectively. Projects to restore mountain paths, help vulnerable BME women and support children from low income families are among initiatives which have received funds.