The Scottish Government is not handing back more than £450m of EU money

By: Iryna Hnatiuk
June 8 2024

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The Scottish Government is not handing back more than £450m of EU money

Screenshots of misleading headlines claiming the Scottish Government is back more than £450m of EU money. (Source: Threads/The Times/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

The Scottish Government will make two more claims to pay for the structural fund programs. Final expenditure figures will not be known until 2025.

Claim ID 4ec9ff3f


A post is circulating on social media claiming that “More than £450 million of EU money earmarked for key economic and anti-poverty projects is due to be handed back to Brussels by the Scottish government." Such posts appeared after media reports suggested that some of the European structural funds allocated to Scotland during the 2014-2020 period may not ultimately be received by the Scottish Government because the allocated funding was not spent to its full value.

While not entirely wrong, the statement is misleading, and the exact figures quoted in the media and social media can not be fully calculated at present. 

Scottish National Party ministers have been accused of "financial incompetence" after it appeared they are set to hand back £450 million of EU structural funds they failed to spend on key economic and anti-poverty projects.

The European Union uses structural funds to reduce economic inequalities between its regions. Two structural fund programs, the European Regional Development Fund, and the European Social Fund, are operational in Scotland due to funding agreed upon as part of the 2014-2020 program. 

In fact

According to the European Commission’s Cohesion Open Data Platform, the Scottish programs for 2014-2020 are now worth €783.4 million (€415.7 million from the European Regional Development Fund and €367.7 million from the European Social Fund). 

As of June 4, 2024, €503 million has been paid by the European Commission, with a further €280.4 million still potentially remaining to be claimed from the Commission by the Scottish Government, based on the revised program total of €783.4 million, if eligible expenditure can be demonstrated.

(Source: European Commission's Cohesion Open Data Platform)

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) stated, referring to the Scottish Government, that the reduction in the overall value of the program of €157.6 million (€783.4 million compared with the €941 million allocated at the beginning of the program period) is due to expenditure targets not being met.

As the graph demonstrates, as of June 4, 2024, around two-thirds of the revised €783.4 million had been paid to the Scottish Government, with €280 million remaining to be claimed.

The Scottish Government has confirmed to SPICe that two more claims to the European Commission will be made to pay for the structural fund program and use as much of the allocated funding as possible. The claim, for payment of €34.8m, was submitted on 7 May 2024; it is pending and likely to be submitted in late July. As a result, it has yet to appear in the Commission figures provided in the table above.

In response to a parliamentary question in the Scottish Parliament on June 4, 2024, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Gaelic, Kate Forbes, said: “These figures do not reflect the totality of spending to date from the 2014-20 European structural funds programs. Final expenditure figures will not be known until 2025 when the programs formally close. Until then, the Scottish government intends to maximize reimbursement from the European Commission where possible.” 

“Thousands of people, businesses and communities have benefitted from the investment of the 2014-20 funds in Scotland to date,” she added. 

The verdict

According to the Scottish Government, it will make two more claims to the European Commission to pay for the structural fund programs. The first claim is likely to be submitted in late July. The government continues to work with the European Commission to explore ways to ensure that Scotland can use as much of the funding allocated to it as possible.

Final expenditure figures will not be known until 2025.

Follow Logically Facts' coverage and fact-checking of the U.K. General Election here.

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