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Government must ‘pull out all the stops’ to guarantee EU funding for local projects

Lord Porter, the chair of the LGA, has called on the government to guarantee EU funding for all local regeneration programmes.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday, chancellor Philip Hammond promised that local areas with signed EU funding agreements when the UK exits the EU will receive replacement funding from the government.

Lord Porter said that the news was “encouraging”, but added that the “vast majority” of EU regeneration funding is tied up in projects which have yet to receive government approval.

The government has also promised to honour funding for any projects currently signed off or due to be agreed before the Autumn Statement.

Lord Porter said: “Between now and November 23, the government needs to pull out all the stops in working with local areas to get the hundreds of projects currently in development and at the cusp of funding agreements over the finishing line.”

He said Hammond should then use the Autumn Statement to guarantee that councils will receive “every penny” of the £5.3bn EU funding they were due to receive by the end of the decade.

Prime minister Theresa May has said the government will trigger Article 50 by March next year, meaning the UK will leave the EU in March 2019 at the latest.

Yesterday Hammond, along with communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid, also promised £5bn to build up to 240,000 new homes.

Lord Porter said: “The private sector clearly has an important role to play but it cannot build the homes we need on its own.”

He added that the government should “recognise that planning is not a barrier to housebuilding” and grant councils new powers, including allowing them to set planning fees locally and replace sold homes with affordable housing.

While the LGA supported the announcement that up to 15,000 homes will be built on surplus public sector land, Lord Porter stated that it was important councils were still able to manage their assets locally.

(Image c. Daniel Leal-Olivas from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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