Sheffield MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been accused of standing by as the Government made a ‘bad and damaging’ decision to halve European cash allocated to South Yorkshire.
Labour’s John Healey said Mr Clegg had shown no concern or influence to stop South Yorkshire’s allocation of EU development money dropping from more than 400 million euros between 2007 and 2013, to 203 million euros between 2014 and 2020.
The Commons heard concerns from MPs that the Government’s desire to limit cuts to EU funding in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to five per cent had led to poorer areas of England losing out.
Wentworth and Dearne MP Mr Healey claimed there was ‘certainly no evidence of concern and certainly no evidence of influence from the Deputy Prime Minister when this critical decision for Sheffield was taken’.
He added: “The Deputy Prime Minister standing by while the Government blatantly makes a bad and damaging decision for his area, for our area in South Yorkshire.”
But Business Minister Michael Fallon rejected the claims and said the last Labour government had prioritised money for the North when allocating EU funds in 2007.
He said he was overseeing a shift back to the South, particularly to poorest areas.
Mr Fallon added South Yorkshire had been designated a ‘phasing-in’ area and now it was emerging from the poorest regional category and was judged to be more competitive.
“Therefore comparing the allocation South Yorkshire received for the whole of 2007-13 with the whole allocation announced for 2014-20 and concluding there is a 66 per cent reduction ignores the reality of what phasing-in actually means,” he said.”
Last week the Government announced more than six billion euros of development cash from the EU has been divided up across England.
The cash is drawn from England’s allocations from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund for the period 2014-2020.
The funds are part of a wider decentralised EU growth programme.
All allocations are subject to final agreement on the EU regulations and confirmation of the 2014/20 budget by the European Parliament.