David Stewart, Scottish Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has hit back at the Scottish Government over their “uncaring” comments regarding business support and funding for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amidst the coronavirus crisis.
In a response to a written Parliamentary Questions from David Stewart, the SNP Scottish Government refused to commit to reversing the 5% or £2.954m funding cut to HIE this financial year to support economic recovering in the region following the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.
Rejecting Mr Stewart’s calls for additional Scottish Government support for the economic and community development agency, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Highlands and Islands Enterprise can raise its own income to supplement the funding allocated”.
Commenting David Stewart MSP said:
“The Scottish Government’s refusal to reverse the nearly £3m budget cut to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and their view that they can simply raise their own income to supplement the funding allocation has revealed how uncaring this government is to the disastrous economic impact that Covid-19 is having on the region.
“HIE’s primary source of funding is Grant in Aid (GIA) and other forms of income (e.g. grants) from the Scottish Government and this is why a 5% budget cut at this time will do so much harm to the regions economy.
“HIE is able to source additional income from rents, loan interest, European Union funding and generate capital receipts from loan repayments and the sale of assets. However, these additional income streams are now under coming under threat due to COVID-19 and consequently there may be a significant reduction in income opportunities this year and going forward.”
“The Scottish Government must listen to the needs of businesses and communities in the Highland and Islands and reverse the cuts to HIE to help the region recover from the damage being caused by Covid-19.”