SCOTTISH local authorities have sounded the alarm over the so-called “shared prosperity” funding that is supposed to replace the European Union’s structural funds for Scotland after Brexit.

Worth more than £800 million to Scotland in the period 2014-2020, the European Structural and Investment funds will obviously cease after Brexit but the Westminster Government promised to replace them.

Now the East of Scotland European Consortium (ESEC) chair Councillor Will Dawson has written to Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in order to seek assurances about that replacement, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

The UKSPF is the financial framework which the UK Government has confirmed will it replace EU structural funds. It has also been confirmed by the Government that final decisions on the fund are due to be made at the Spending Review, which is expected this autumn.

Established in 1991, the ESEC is a local authority membership organisation with a political board which collaborates on a shared EU agenda as it affects and supports economic development in the area.

The seven members of the ESEC are Aberdeen City, Angus, Dundee, Falkirk, Fife, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Councils. ESEC’s agenda is mainly concentrated around EU policy developments and associated lobbying activity, especially in the context of Brexit, but also EU funding opportunities and strategic projects.

READ MORE: SNP demand Tories return 'stolen' £160m payment to Scots farmers

In the letter, Councillor Dawson shares the concerns felt strongly among local authorities regarding the delay to consultation on the UKSPF, which was expected by the end of 2018 but which never materialised.

An ESEC statement said: “Even if the consultation was launched by the end of this month, and assuming it is open for twelve weeks, that would leave only a couple of months for the Government to review the responses and draft a programme incorporating the expertise and recommendations contained in the submissions.”

The letter stresses that any further delay could lead to a loss of skills and expertise, as current employees consider their future prospects.

Among the existing programmes due to come to a conclusion are the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Leader programme.,

ESEC added in the letter: “Staff working with these funds are in the dark as to what comes next. If the UK Government does not provide information on the successor programme, and soon, then there is the potential of losing a lot of very knowledgeable people who will seek opportunities elsewhere.”

Commenting on the urgency of the situation and the need for the UK Government to act, Councillor Dawson said “No matter your views on Brexit, there can be no doubt that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund offers a genuine opportunity to deliver a programme which is free of the bureaucracy of its predecessor programmes and which has a simplified administrative structure, making it accessible to all, while addressing both need and opportunity.

“Therefore it is a matter of huge importance that the consultation process is thorough, and genuine, and incorporates the recommendations of those delivering EU-funded projects.

“We therefore urge the government launch the consultation as a matter of priority,” he added.