EU funding must be matched by government after Brexit, says WYCA report

The report looks into what can be done to help Leeds City Region's economy after Brexit.
The report looks into what can be done to help Leeds City Region's economy after Brexit.

Leaders in West Yorkshire look set to urge government to step in with funding for EU projects after Brexit.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) was proposed by the Conservatives in the run-up to the 2017 general election as a replacement for regional EU funding after Brexit.

And, in a report set to be discussed this week, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is seeking assurances that such a fund would match any investments the Leeds City Region currently receives from European Union.

Regional funding from the EU is known as European structural and investment funds (ESIF), and includes money from three EU bodies: the European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Information attached to the WYCA report claims the Leeds City Region’s ESIF allocation is around €398m for the period of 2014-2020.

The report adds: “We would want a commitment from government that the value of the SPF available to areas would be at least of an equivalent value to those EU and other domestic funds previously received prior to Brexit.

“As a net contributor to the EU there is an expectation that the new SPF would

include at least repatriated funding and that this would be shared fairly across the UK, increasing values previously distributed.”

The report pointed out that, if the government’s current local growth fund would become part of the UKSPF, this would mean annual funding would have to reach at least £200 million “to ensure that Leeds City Region can support its growth ambitions.”

A Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Leaving the European Union presents an opportunity to design a new, simplified, integrated fund operating across the United Kingdom.

“We are continuing to engage Mayors and mayoral combined authorities to ensure certainty of funding, ahead of a public consultation later this year.

“Decisions on the operation and allocation of the UKSPF will be made following the consultation.”

The report will be discussed by WYCA members this Thursday.