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Call for funding to support Just Transition ambition in north-east

By Kyle Ritchie

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Assurance about the future sustainability and purpose of the Scottish Government's 10-year Just Transition Fund for the north-east and Moray is needed, according to a new report issued.

As Scotland seeks to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, the Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee has published a report looking at the support and incentives for people, communities and businesses in the north-east and Moray.

In 2021, the Scottish Government announced a 10-year £500 million Just Transition Fund specifically for the north-east and Moray.

A call has been made for Just Transition funding to support the north-east's ambition
A call has been made for Just Transition funding to support the north-east's ambition

A key part of the committee’s work was looking at how the Just Transition Fund is working and whether it is achieving its aims.

The report is calling for the Scottish Government to set out how it will support community capacity building, engagement and representation to build trust in the just transition agenda.

Given the Just Transition Fund did not open for new bids in the last financial year and the way in which it is funded this year, it is now extremely difficult for public sector and community groups to access it.

The committee believes that there is scope for better alignment of the fund with regional and national Government strategy and policy to ensure funding is coherent.

Committee convener MSP Claire Baker said: “The north-east and Moray is home to Scotland’s oil and gas production.

“So, it is vital for the workers and communities based there that the shift away from fossil fuels to renewables happens in a way that benefits local communities, businesses and jobs. This is a just transition.

“Whilst there is clear ambition from the Scottish Government to support the transition, with a 75 per cent budget decrease in the allocation for the Just Transition Fund this year, it is less clear to the committee how the necessary support will be funded in practice and how communities will be able to stay actively involved.

“The cut of 24 per cent in the Scottish Government’s employability budget spend and the suspension of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund are of concern to our committee.

“Over successive reports, we have repeatedly highlighted the need to prioritise spending to support skills development in order to encourage business investment and create a workforce for the future. A call we are repeating in this report.

“Scotland needs more investment in its current and future workforce. Whilst we acknowledge the financial pressures being faced, we must know how the Scottish Government intends to support jobs and build skills for the energy transition.”

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