‘EU funds need to be replaced’

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest
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Local areas need £8.4billion of EU funding replaced as part of a locally-led successor to regional aid after Brexit, council leaders set out last week.

Since the EU referendum, the Local Government Association (LGA) has repeatedly called for a government commitment to replace vital EU regeneration funding.

In its manifesto, the Government pledged to create a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the money local areas currently receive from the European Union. Details have been scarce so far.

The EU money has been vital to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills and boost local growth across the country, in all types of areas.

The LGA said any UK successor scheme needs to be of at least equivalent value to the current European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF).

In its new report published last Friday, Beyond Brexit, the LGA says local areas across the UK had been set to receive a total of €10.5billion (£8.4 billion) between 2014 and 2020.

The LGA said Brexit provides a historic opportunity to give local areas greater say over how to target a new and simplified regional aid fund at local projects of benefit for local people and economies and best support infrastructure, environment, enterprise and social cohesion.

Coun Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s Brexit task and finish group, said: “Since the referendum, one of the biggest concerns for councils has been the future of vital EU regeneration funding.

“Councils have used EU funds to help new businesses start up, create thousands of new jobs, roll out broadband and build new roads and bridges.

“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.”