Council leaders urge for post-Brexit funding certainty

The Local Government Association is setting out a timetable of action for the government to end the growing uncertainty surrounding post-Brexit regional aid funding allocations.

In a new LGA report on the top Brexit issues for councils, published at its annual conference in Birmingham, the association urges the government to have completed a consultation and engagement exercise with all local areas on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) by Autumn 2018 and UKSPF allocations for 2021-2028 announced for each local area by Spring 2019. The government has pledged to create a UKSPF after Brexit to replace the regional aid funding local areas currently receive from the EU from 2021 onwards, although little has been revealed about what this could look like.

Local areas will need £8.4 billion of EU regional funding replaced after Brexit, with this money vital to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills, and boost local growth across the country, in all types of areas.

Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Taskforce, said: “Brexit cannot leave local areas facing huge financial uncertainty as a result of lost regional aid funding. This funding has been used by local areas to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills training, and invest in critical transport and digital infrastructure and boost inclusive growth across the country.

“The clock is ticking for the government to set out a firm plan to replace this funding into the next decade and beyond. We want to urgently work with the government to help develop a fully-funded and locally-driven successor scheme. With national funding for regeneration increasingly being depleted, all local areas have become increasingly reliant on EU money and local areas are desperate to get on with creating jobs, building infrastructure and boosting growth.

“To help ensure we have an economy fit for the future, we urge the government to act urgently to consult on the detail of what the fund will look like. Councils need to know quickly how they will be able to bid, receive guarantees that the UKSPF will at least match the funding from the current European Structural Fund and receive their funding allocations by the time we leave the EU. Without action there is a risk that billions of pounds of investment into our communities will be lost and local areas and economies will be denied desperately-needed funding.”

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