£95m European funds boost to help Scots beat recession

ALEX SALMOND was today set to announce a cash injection of nearly £95 million of European funding to help Scotland beat the economic downturn.

The investment is expected to create around 8000 jobs and thousands more training places over the next four years.

The First Minister was due to tell the SNP's spring conference this afternoon that the funding would also help regenerate communities and stimulate local economies.

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The announcement was a central part of his keynote address to the delegates, rounding off the party's two-day gathering in Glasgow.

A total of 129 projects across Scotland will benefit from 70.2m in new allocations from the European Regional Development Fund and 24.7m in allocations from the European Social Fund.

Mr Salmond was expected to say: "The Scottish Government is doing all we can to ensure strong economic recovery, which includes front loading European Structural Funds and targeting them to maximise Scottish employment and output at this critical time.

"This European funding is helping to develop the skills of our workforce, support the creation of almost 8000 jobs, regenerate our communities and stimulate local economies."

He will say the cash injection will provide a welcome boost to towns and cities across Scotland. "The funding will focus on projects which provide Scotland's workforce with the tools and training they need to embrace opportunities in the employment market.

"The European funding will also concentrate on urban regeneration projects that will see increased opportunities and investment in some of the country's most deprived areas.

"New conditions and new opportunities will arise from the current global downturn and I am confident Scotland has what it takes to rebuild growth and prosperity for all."

The 50 new ERDF projects, focusing on business growth, urban regeneration and rural development, will help create almost 8000 jobs.

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And the 79 new ESF projects are expected to create or secure 75,000 training places.

The Black Community Skills Project, which aims to help socially and economically excluded ethnic minority individuals in Edinburgh and the Lothians, will receive 117,465 from the ESF.

An ESF grant of 1.3m is earmarked for the national project Responding to Redundancy,

while another 1m ESF grant will go to Make the Move to help it to support 465 people with learning disabilities into work through tailored programmes.