The housing, communities, and local government committee today publishes a new report on local government and Brexit.
The committee recommends that the government ‘urgently’ advances its plans for its replacement to EU Structural Funds; the Shared Prosperity Fund, and the committee argues the government must begin consulting on the new policy’s design and implementation two weeks after April 12. Separately, the MPs on the committee recommend that the new policy must be equivalent or exceed current funding levels received from the EU funds, and must be allocated based on local need, taking into account what areas currently receive from the fund.
The County Councils Network supports these recommendations. In the current tranche of EU funds, counties received £4.1bn – five times the amount London received.
Cllr Philip Atkins, County Councils Network vice-chairman, said:
“Despite the focus on London and the major cities, residents and workers in county areas are likely to be affected the most by Brexit. County areas received £4.1bn from the last tranche of EU Structural Funds, five times the amount the capital received – a recognition of their economic challenges and rurality.
“It is imperative that these funds are adequately replaced. We support the committee’s calls that the new Shared Prosperity Fund matches or exceeds the present levels of funding and that government consults on the new arrangements as soon as possible.
“It is imperative this funding is channelled through elected and accountable local politicians who know their economies intimately, not Local Enterprise Partnerships. The Brexit vote can be explained in part due to a feeling of disenfranchisement from the perceived remoteness of Westminster from communities across England. Devolving this funding down to the local authorities that know their communities best would send a positive message to those areas that their voice is being heard.