Budget is an opportunity for Chancellor to address potential cliff-edge facing business as a consequence of Brexit.

red boxWest Yorkshire Combined Authority is urging Chancellor Philip Hammond to use his first Autumn Budget to end uncertainty over the future of vital funding for the regions.

With the Brexit date set for March 2019 and no agreement yet in place over the future of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, areas including the Leeds City Region are facing the growing risk of a cliff-edge in relation to millions of pounds of EU funding. This is money that the Combined Authority and LEP use to support work improving skills, supporting growing industries, investing in vital infrastructure and developing new research and technology.

Regional growth

The Leeds City Region has been allocated 396m Euros in the current EU funding round to support regional growth. While the Government has made promises to support projects up to the point it leaves the EU in March 2019 it has set out little detail on its proposed replacement – the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Ahead of his Budget on Wednesday, West Yorkshire Combined Authority has presented Mr Hammond with a proposal to make the UK Prosperity Fund part of a ‘single pot’ of money that streamlines funding for regional growth and gives long term certainty to combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships.

Impending loss

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, West Yorkshire Combined Authority chair, said: “While there has been much debate about the potential cliff-edge facing business as a consequence of Brexit, little attention has been given to the impending loss of hundreds of millions of pounds in European funding which currently supports economic growth.

“The Budget is an opportunity for Philip Hammond to address those concerns by setting out clear proposals for the size, scope and allocation of his proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund so we can be sure it will be up and running in April 2019.

“In time, we hope he will go further and take this opportunity to take a broader look at the way regional growth is funded and move towards a ‘single pot’ approach which is more streamlined and gives combined authorities and LEPs the certainty they need over the longer term.”

Examples of projects being supported by European Structural Funds in the current round are:

  • Installation of fibre broadband network across more than 500 postcodes, providing critical infrastructure to support future businesses and wider economic growth.
  • Building on West Yorkshire’s rich weaving heritage, the development of a 3D Weaving Innovation Centre in partnership with the University of Leeds.
  • Installing more energy efficient heating in more than 1,000 Leeds flats, reducing environmental impact and cutting fuel poverty by 36 per cent
  • Target support to those facing hurdles to accessing the labour market – including older workers, lone parents and those with disabilities – to secure jobs including housing and budget management advice
  • Help for vulnerable new migrants to build their confidence, integrate and access work through measures including language classes, mentoring and mental health support.

21 Nov 2017

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