‘Urgent clarity’ needed on EU funds, LGA warns

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government to provide urgent clarity over how it will replace current European Union Structural Funds once the UK leaves the EU.

The LGA said councils are being increasingly concerned about the lack of clarity over how the government plans to address the potential €10.5 billion UK-wide funding gap for local communities that would immediately open up from the point we officially exited the EU.

In its manifesto, the government pledged to create a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the money local areas currently receive from the European Union.

Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Task and Finish Group, warned the Communities and Local Government Select Committee about a lack of progress being made on how the government plans to replace this EU funding. This funding has been used by local areas to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills training, invest in critical transport and digital infrastructure and boost inclusive growth across the country.

The LGA believes that Brexit offers an opportunity to develop a domestic successor to these arrangements that is fully place-based. This will enable local areas to set their own priorities, and enhance their capacities to adapt to future challenges that will need to be addressed after Brexit.

Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Task and Finish Group, told the committee: “More clarity is urgently needed. The very nature of local government means we are very close to the residents we serve so this is about people, their jobs, their family and it is hugely important.

“We are certainly talking to the government about this funding and the critical timeline on the funding.

“Negotiating our exit from the European Union is clearly a huge task but the clock is ticking to ensure Brexit does not leave local areas facing huge funding gaps as a result of lost regional aid funding.

“We want to urgently work with the government to help develop a fully-funded and locally-driven successor scheme with local government in areas of all types. 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.”

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