‘Disappointment’ at post-Brexit funding pot

The leader of Leeds’ Liberal Democrats has expressed “disappointment” at the government’s reluctance to match EU funding for the city, which could place dozens of council jobs under threat.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 11:45 am

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A Leeds City Council report published last week suggested some of its 120 staff directly funded by European grants could be at risk of redundancy, when the UK loses access to the cash next year.

It said the post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which the government is setting up, is likely to offer Leeds less money than the European funding it’s replacing.

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Speaking at an executive board meeting on Tuesday before the £21m figure was revealed, Lib Dem Group leader Councillor Stewart Golton was critical of the government’s approach.

On Tuesday, the council revealed that it was expecting to receive just over £21m from the UKSPF over a three-year period.

By comparison, around £81m of EU cash has been committed to projects across Leeds since 2015, although only around £46.5m of that is expected to materialise before the end of next year.

Speaking at an executive board meeting on Tuesday before the £21m figure was revealed, Lib Dem Group leader Councillor Stewart Golton was critical of the government’s approach.

He also expressed surprise that none of the senior Labour councillors at the meeting offered any comment on the issue.

Coun Golton said: “Since it indicates we’re going to get less financial support than we were going to get previously I’d have thought the frontbench of the council would want to make an issue of it, but I see you’re in diplomatic mode.

“It’s very disappointing in terms of the indications of what we’re going to get from this Shared Prosperity Fund.”

The UKSPF is expected to launch in May and it’s now been revealed it will provide West Yorkshire with around £80m of funding up to 2025.

Of that, £12m will be ringfenced for adult education programmes, while the rest will be split between the region’s five local councils.

Of that, Leeds will get £21.3m.

The Conservative group leader Andrew Carter pointed out that the city would initially benefit as EU cash can still be drawn down after the new fund is set up.

He said: “For the first couple of years both will be run in tandem, so we’ll actually get more.

“It’s after that we need to worry about.”