£605m EU cash on the line as Sheffield MP seeks Government match fund promise

A Sheffield MP is demanding the Government replaces £605m of EU cash earmarked for South Yorkshire after Brexit.

By David Walsh
Wednesday, 10 April, 2019, 15:14
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, left, is a shadow minister for Brexit.

Paul Blomfield, a shadow Brexit minister, wants a guarantee the region ‘won’t lose out from the decision to leave the EU’.

South Yorkshire is due to receive £605m in EU regional development funds between 2021 and 2027.

But although the Government has said the new ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ will replace EU monies, 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 said: “People didn’t vote to lose out in the Brexit referendum. So I’m demanding that the Government makes sure they don’t.”

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

The report also 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.

In a letter to James Brokenshire, secretary of state for Housing Communities and Local Government, Mr Blomfield says: ‘Ministers have indicated that regions should not lose out from the decision to leave the EU and I would therefore be grateful if you would confirm the Government will ensure South Yorkshire will receive funding equivalent to the £605 million we would have received from EU regional development funds’.

He said: “There has been a shocking growth in regional inequality under this Government and South Yorkshire is now one of the poorest regions in Europe. It means that we would have received substantially more European funding to boost the local economy. The Government has said regions shouldn’t lose out following Brexit, so I’m calling on them to give is our lost cash...EU funding has been crucial to our region, supporting major projects like the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and road building in the Dearne Valley, as well as community initiatives like Manor Training & Resource Centre.

“People didn’t vote to lose out in the Brexit referendum. So I’m demanding that the Government make sure they don’t.”

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.

Mr Blomfield is meeting Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis to brief him on the issue.

In a response, Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, states the Government is making ‘great progress’ on the Shared Prosperity Fund and has held 25 engagement events.

He adds: ‘Final decisions on the quantum and allocation of the UKSPF will be made during the Spending Review’.

The spending review has yet to be scheduled.