‘No confidence’ Government will replace £605m of European cash for South Yorkshire post Brexit

A Sheffield MP has “no confidence” the Government will replace £605m of EU cash earmarked for South Yorkshire after Brexit.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 5:11 pm
Labour MP Paul Blomfield, left, is a shadow Brexit minister.

Paul Blomfield said Tory policies had made South Yorkshire one of the poorest regions in Europe and there was no reason that would stop.

South Yorkshire is set to receive £605m EU regional development cash between 2021 and 2027.

The Government has said it will set up a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the money after Brexit.

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But a promised consultation has not taken place and there has been no detail on how much the fund will pay out, to whom and when.

Mr Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, said: “I’m concerned that the Government won’t come close to matching EU structural funding for Least Developed Regions.

“Over the last nine years they have systematically taken money away from areas of need.

“I have no confidence that they wouldn’t do the same again. If we’ve nothing to fear, Ministers could simply pledge the equivalent funding, but they haven’t.

“Just look at their record on council funding. They’ve reduced needs-based funding, supporting wealthier areas at the expense of northern towns and cities.

“London and the South-East are given five times the transport funding per person that we get in Yorkshire and the Humber. Tory policies have again made South Yorkshire one of the poorest regions in Europe. The EU would provide us with the money to tackle it. I just want the Government to pledge the same.”

When designated a ‘less developed region’ after the collapse of the steel and mining industries, South Yorkshire received ‘Objective 1’ funding which provided £820 million to more than 250 organisations and 650 projects, and increased the local economy by 8.5 per cent, he added.

A report by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions estimates the UK would be entitled to 13 billion euros of regional development funding between 2021-2027, should it stay in the European Union.

It identifies five UK areas – South Yorkshire, Tees Valley & Durham, Lincolnshire, Cornwall, and West Wales – which would classed as ‘less developed regions’ because regional GDP is less than 75 per cent of the EU average. That works out at £605m for South Yorkshire, Mr Blomfield says.

A decision on the design of the Shared Prosperity Fund is expected after the Spending Review, which has been delayed beyond autumn because of the Conservative leadership election.