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24.09.19

Time is running out for councils to receive EU replacement fund, LGA warns

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for the Government to urgently publish its final plans for the replacement of the EU funding after Brexit.

With the Brexit deadline fast approaching, local councils are reportedly not able to secure vital investments into their local economies without fund certainty

The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales, is keen to move forward with plans and says that councils are ambitious for their communities and local growth, creating jobs, supporting businesses and boosting the national economy. 

In July 2018, the Government announced the EU funding’s replacement, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), but councils are still waiting for details the all-important life-line for their local economies.

Without knowing what the funding will look like it is hard for councils to make future plans and focus on growing the economy within their communities, longer term. The delay could see them missing out on millions of pounds worth of private investment to support infrastructure project.

The LGA said the UKSPF gives communities the funding certainty they desperately need in the long term and provide a more devolved level of funding to be used more effectively. The opportunity will allow elected mayors and local leaders to have a say on what UKSPF will look like and be able to tailor it to a more accessible pot of funding designed with local needs in mind.

Local areas are also keen to show that the £5.3bn they have received in EU funding since 2014 has been put to good use. Successful spending has come in the form of working with schools, colleges and employers in the local area. For example, Bradford Council is running its ‘Get Bradford Working’ project which has helped more than 3,500 people in the local area into employment.

While Devon receives more than £150m year with the current EU aid funding, they have been able to release land for over 29,000 new homes and build business accommodation for up to 28,000 new jobs. The allowance has also aided the creation of more than 5,000 new training, apprenticeship and job opportunities and supported 2,000 businesses.

The LGA says that powers need to be devolved down to local communities after Brexit and doesn’t want another Brussels. Last week they called for the English Devolution Bill to be put forward in the Queen’s Speech, filtering down widespread powers into local councils.

Chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Taskforce, councillor Kevin Bentley, said:

“Councils desperately need long-term certainty around how the UK will replace vital EU regional aid funding. A fully-funded, locally-driven UKSPF is central to improving people’s lives, supporting local businesses and boosting the national economy.”

“Without further clarity, growth and investment in local areas is at risk.”

“Councils want to work with the Government to ensure the UKSPF is developed quickly and to ensure that no area is left without investment into their communities and all parts of the country can benefit from the growth they so desperately need.”

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