Highlands & Islands

Sturgeon gives assurance on development agency HIE

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon responded to a question on the future of HIE during First Minister's Questions

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish government will make sure Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) can continue to provide its services.

Concerns that the public body could be merged with Scottish Enterprise were raised by Labour MSP David Stewart earlier this week.

Ms Sturgeon made her comments during First Minister's Questions in Holyrood.

Green MSP John Finnie had earlier asked a question on the future of the development agency.

The first minister said: "I think Highlands and Islands Enterprise does a fantastic job, and has done a fantastic job over the last 50 years.

"I can give the assurance to the member that we will make sure it is in a position to carry on with those functions and provide the excellent services it does to the Highlands of Scotland."

HIE provides support and services to businesses in the Highlands, Western Isles, Northern Isles, Moray and Argyll.

'End-to-end review'

Earlier this week, Mr Stewart raised his concerns that HIE was to be wound up. Inverness-based economic consultant Tony Mackay had reported the Scottish government was considering merging HIE with Scottish Enterprise.

The Scottish government announced in May that it would carry out a review of enterprise and skills support.

The review, carried out over the summer, included an "end-to-end review of the roles, responsibilities and relationships" of Scottish Enterprise, HIE, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.

Its findings have yet to be released.

Ahead of the move, ministers said they wanted to ensure that the Scottish government and public agencies were "delivering the joined-up support that our young people, universities, colleges and businesses need to increase sustainable economic growth".

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