EU funding for county detailed in report

The referendum takes place on June 23.
The referendum takes place on June 23.

As Britain’s referendum on its membership of the EU gets closer, an overview of the grants available to both the county council and other Northumberland-based organisations has been produced.

The information report, which is being presented to councillors at various scrutiny committee meetings at the moment, also explains the different types of funding available, what has been received in the past and opportunities in the future.

The report opens by stating: ‘European funding plays an important role in supporting economic growth in the United Kingdom and with decreasing amounts of national funding, their importance is increasing’.

The 2007-13 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) was worth £375million in the North East with more than half delivered as regional business support projects, from which Northumberland firms benefitted.

During that period, the county council and other Northumberland-based organisations directly secured £35million from the ERDF towards total investment of £73million.

The 2007-13 European Social Fund (ESF) was delivered as national programmes with local sub-contracting arrangements, but the value of delivery in the North East is estimated to be £195million.

The 2014-20 European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) programme is worth £436million to the North East of which £226million is ERDF, £200million ESF and £10million is European Agricultural Farming & Rural Development funding (EAFRD).

The ERDF and ESF Programmes opened for applications in March; the county council, Arch and other Northumberland-based organisations have already secured £10.8million in grants towards project costs of £16.3million.

The EAFRD funds, which will provide opportunities for the development of tourism facilities and business growth, are expected to be released this summer.

The funds are not open to public-sector organisations, but Active Northumberland and Visit Northumberland are involved in discussions to identify projects which could benefit from the funds.

In terms of other grants, within Northumberland, there are three Local Action Groups for the LEADER programme with a combined allocation of £5.86million.

The Basic Farm Payments Scheme has one of the largest annual allocations of European funding in the UK; it is estimated that around £60million was paid to Northumberland farmers in 2015.