More than 100 groups, including local councils and businesses, have hit out at Boris Johnson’s promise to “level up” following a £1.65 billion post-Brexit funding cut in the north.
The grants given through the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund were promised to at the very least match EU cash previously handed out to UK regions for development – but the groups claim South Yorkshire will lose £900 million and Tees Valley and Durham will miss out on £750 million over six years.
The SPF has already been postponed for one year, meaning huge losses for poor areas in the absence of European cash.
Another broken promise?
It comes after last month it emerged that the government’s budget for poor areas will not match the £4.5 billion from the EU, despite election promises from the Tories that this would be the case – offering instead £2.6 billion over three years.
And the past few months revealed Brexit is plunging Wales back into austerity because of EU aid loss, and leave-voting Cornwall is seeing funding slashed to almost a hundred times less because of UK’s exit from the bloc.
The National Enterprise Network, an organisation providing advice and finance for growth opportunities, told The Independent it was the latest blow to job creation after the loss of other investment grants.
And Steve Fothergill, national director at the Industrial Communities Alliance, representing local authorities in industrial areas, said that because of Brexit other parts of England may be treated even “less favourably” than Cornwall.
Meanwhile, Stephen Kinnock, who leads the cross-party SPF group in Parliament, hit out at the funding offered by the Tories, accusing them of intending to “level down”.
Huge funding losses
Writing to the secretary of state for levelling up Michael Gove, the Labour MP highlighted that Cornwall is being offered more funding than South Yorkshire or Tees Valley and Durham despite being wealthier.
“The potential losses are huge – over a seven-year programming period, perhaps as much as £900m for South Yorkshire and £750m for Tees Valley and Durham,” Kinnock said.
The department for levelling up, housing and communities said the funding loss claims are “unfounded”, but did not explain the reason why this would be the case, according to The Independent.
“The UK Shared Prosperity Fund – worth over £2.6bn – will, at a minimum, match the size of EU funds in all nations, helping people across the UK to access opportunity and better their skills,” a spokesperson insisted.
Meanwhile, last month it emerged that Cornwall is set to receive just over £1 million from the government – almost a hundred times less than it would have received if the UK stayed in the EU.
The Brexit-voting area was only allowed to bid for a maximum of £3 million and the government announced that Cornwall would only receive around £1 million, despite Rishi Sunak’s promises to match EU funding – which would have meant £100 million a year for Cornwall alone.