Chancellor’s EU funding pledge does not go far enough says LGA’s Lord Porter
The Local Government Association (LGA) has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s offer to guarantee EU funding secured before Britain leaves the UK, but warned it will be of little worth for those whose bids are still tied up awaiting government approval.
In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham yesterday, the Chancellor Philip Hammond MP said: “I can offer some additional certainty to British businesses and other organisations bidding to receive EU funding while we’re still a member. I’ve already guaranteed the funding for projects signed prior to this year’s Autumn Statement.
“Today, I can go further. The Treasury will offer a guarantee to bidders whose projects meet UK priorities and value for money criteria that if they secure multi-year EU funding before we exit we will guarantee those payments after Britain has left the EU.”
In response, the LGA’s chair Lord Porter said: "We are pleased that the Government has accepted our call to provide some much-needed further guarantees around EU regeneration funding.
"The Chancellor's pledge that local areas with existing EU funding agreements signed off by the time we exit the EU will receive replacement funding once we leave is encouraging.
"However, the vast majority of EU regeneration funding remains tied up in thousands of proposals which are yet to receive government approval. This money will be vital to create jobs, build infrastructure and boost local growth across the country.
"The Government has also committed to honour existing agreed projects reliant on EU money and those signed-off by the Autumn Statement. 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.
"The Chancellor must also use the Autumn Statement to go further and guarantee that local areas will receive every penny of the £5.3 billion in EU funding, or replacement funding, they are expecting by the end of the decade. This needs to happen regardless of whether decisions over which projects it should be spent on have been made or not.
"This is the best way to fully protect local regeneration plans, flagship infrastructure projects, employment and skills schemes and local growth for all – priorities for both central and local government."