Monday 19 August 2019

UK councils call for £5bn in EU funding to be replaced after Brexit

Stock: PA
Stock: PA

Harriet Line

English local authorities risk losing out on more than £5bn (€5.57b) at the end of next year if the Government does not replace EU funding arrangements after Brexit, council leaders have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged ministers to outline how they will replicate the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) 2014-2020 when it ends in December 2020.

The LGA said ESIF funding provides a "life line" for local areas to make important investments, and warned that "uncertainty" over the UK Shared Prosperity Fund - a domestic replacement - was a "huge concern" for councils which could face a £5.3bn funding gap.

Brexit cannot leave local areas facing huge financial uncertainty as a result of lost regional aid funding. Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the Local Government Association Brexit taskforce

Ministers announced in July last year that they intend to consult on the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund by the end of 2018, but have yet to do so, the LGA said.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA's Brexit taskforce, said: "The clock is ticking for the Government to set out a firm plan to replace this funding into the next decade and beyond.

"Brexit cannot leave local areas facing huge financial uncertainty as a result of lost regional aid funding. This funding has been used by local areas to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills training, and invest in critical transport and digital infrastructure and boost inclusive growth across the country.

"With 18 months until funding runs out, the Government needs to work urgently with councils to develop a fully-funded and locally-driven successor scheme.

"With national funding for regeneration increasingly being depleted, all local areas have become increasingly reliant on EU money and local areas are desperate to get on with creating jobs, building infrastructure and boosting growth."

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