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MSP claims SNP's central belt focus leads to cuts in north as Highlands and Islands Enterprise funding slashed

By Scott Maclennan

MSP Donald Cameron.
MSP Donald Cameron.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has hit out at the Scottish budget saying it offers “confirmation that Nicola Sturgeon only seems to care about the central belt”.

The Conservative MSP reacted angrily to the announcement in the Scottish budget that Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is to see its funding slashed for the second year in a row.

According to the draft budget, HIE will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year – down from £61.1 million last year.

But given that in 2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million this equates to a cut of £13.5 million over just two years.

Mr Cameron said: “I find it quite extraordinary that the SNP government has decided to target HIE for cuts of this magnitude.

"This is the second year in a row that HIE funding has seen a significant reduction.

“Much of the region is facing the immense challenge of depopulation and losing our young people, and HIE is the agency we look to for encouraging economic development, creating jobs and sustaining our communities.

“With local councils across the Highlands and Islands struggling to deliver basic services due to years of unfair financial settlements from the Scottish Government, the SNP has now unbelievably decided to take the axe to the one agency which might have mitigated the impact of those cuts.

“Once again, we have confirmation that Nicola Sturgeon only seems to care about the central belt.”

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