Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield criticises government funding announcement as 'shocking'

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A Sheffield MP has criticised government funding of £622,000 for Sheffield as ‘shocking’ and ‘another broken Brexit promise’.

The city has received £622,659 for a project called ‘Levelling Up Futures in Sheffield’ from the Community Renewal Fund.

It was one of eight projects in South Yorkshire to receive money from the fund, which is a replacement for EU funding for disadvantaged areas.

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Nationally, some 477 projects are set to share £200m, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove announced.

Sheffield MP and Shadow Brexit Minister, Paul Blomfield.  Picture Tony Johnson.Sheffield MP and Shadow Brexit Minister, Paul Blomfield.  Picture Tony Johnson.
Sheffield MP and Shadow Brexit Minister, Paul Blomfield. Picture Tony Johnson.
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He said: “We are levelling up in every corner of the United Kingdom, backing locally-led projects that will make a real difference to communities and help to deliver our net zero commitments.

“There is incredible talent spread right across our great country and this investment will unlock the opportunities to match.”


Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The Community Renewal Fund is a pilot to prepare areas for the Shared Prosperity Fund, a post-Brexit replacement for EU money for disadvantaged areas.

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Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said the planned spending of £2.6bn was a third of what government had promised.

He said: “The Tories’ replacement for the money we would have received through EU structural funds is shocking, and breaks their manifesto promise that they would ‘at minimum match the size of those funds’.

“The Chancellor’s Budget exposed their failure, announcing £2.6bn for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund between 2020 -2025. This is just a third of what was allocated to the UK from the EU - approximately £7.7bn over the 2014-2020 period.

“It’s another broken Brexit promise and shows the Government isn’t serious about levelling up.”

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Mr Blomfield had calculated that if the UK had stayed in Europe, South Yorkshire was due to receive £605m from EU regional development funds between 2021 and 2027.

Community Renewal Fund projects in South Yorkshire are: Anything's Possible, Rotherham! £607,845; Barnsley Central Area-Based Good Growth Pilot £2.4m; Rotherham Children's Capital of Culture - Creative & Cultural Skills Embassy £1.85m; Decarbonising Doncaster £993,480; Doncaster Progress: Pathways to Recovery £640,560; Doncaster Thrive: Pathway To Recovery £581,776; Rotherham ‘Labre's Hope’ £532,683 and Levelling Up Futures in Sheffield £622,659.

Last week, the Local Government Association raised concerns over ‘lengthy’ delays in announcing Community Renewal Funding and called for an extension on the deadline to spend it, which is March 2022.

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Recently, Barnsley Council leader, Sir Steve Houghton, described the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as ‘disappointing’.

He added: “It will be a complex set of small pots and funding will not get close to EU levels for another couple of years, compounding the disappointing delays to the Community Renewal Fund.”

Throughout 2019, Labour MPs were demanding to know details of the much-delayed Shared Prosperity Fund. Then in September 2020, Paul Blomfield’s fears were confirmed when Michael Gove announced plans to divert cash from South Yorkshire to newly-Conservative areas. The then Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the UK’s replacement for EU structural funding would go to communities that were “undervalued and overlooked” by Labour authorities and now had Conservative MPs.

He added: “It is vitally important improvements to productivity are supported and that is why new free ports and increased investment will go to areas that have been neglected by Labour for far too long.”

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