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Council leaders call for Brexit regeneration cash guarantees

Council leaders have called on the government to guarantee the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund will not leave some regions worse off when Britain leaves the EU.

A group of local authorities have signed a joint statement, which asks for the fund, which will replace EU regeneration grants after Brexit, to be adequately resourced and appropriately devolved.

The signatories include the leaders of councils from Durham, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

‘It is vital that we ensure areas like ours here in County Durham, get their fair share of future regeneration funding from the government,’ said Durham Council leader, Cllr Simon Henig.

‘It’s unacceptable that areas of the UK are falling behind and inequality in regional economies is widening. By coming together with other regions like ours, we are sending a clear message to government that this needs to be addressed urgently and fairly, to ensure that County Durham receives adequate funding to support its economic growth.’

New research from CPMR suggests that regions in the UK would receive €13 billion under the future EU Cohesion programme, if it were to remain a part of the European Union.

This would mean that County Durham would have benefited from increased funding to support its local economy, potentially receiving an allocation from the next programme of around €300m.

This funding would have been used to increase employment opportunities, helping people get better skills and jobs, as well as investing in businesses, innovation and research and low carbon activities.

Earlier this month, a cross-party group of MPs has called on the government to publish more details about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund by the end of April.

The leader of Cornwall Council, Cllr Adam Paynter, added: ‘We need an ambitious regional policy and an adequately funded UK Shared Prosperity Fund to ensure that all regions across the UK prosper. Particular attention needs to be given to those regions most in need.

‘We need to revive the devolution agenda and ensure that funds and decision-making is returned to the regions so we can ensure a better future for all people living within our regions.

‘By coming together as regions from across the UK – some of us rural, some urban, but all faced with the significant challenge of being a less developed region – we are sending a strong signal to government that a new approach to regional policy is needed.’

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