MPs call for clarity on post-Brexit regeneration funds

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 this month.

In a report published today (3 April), the housing, communities and local government select committee warns ministers need to take urgent action to help local authorities prepare for the consequences of Brexit.

One of the report’s key areas concerns the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is due to replace EU regeneration funds when Britain leaves the EU.

A full consultation on the new fund was due to be held by ministers before the end of 2018, but has still yet to occur.

In the report, the MPs call on the government to publish the promised consultation on its design and administration within two weeks of 12 April.

It also warns that the money available must match or exceed the equivalent levels of EU funding which is currently provided to local government.

In addition, it argues that any funding made available in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund must be additional to the new money already provided for by the controversial Stronger Towns Fund.

‘The government must provide adequate financial support and technical guidance to respond to emerging challenges,’ said committee chair, Clive Betts.

‘It is also absolutely imperative that the government now brings forward its plans for replacing the EU funding that some of the poorest communities across the country currently rely on.’

The report also argues that the government should consider the effect of the loss of European Investment Bank loans at the regional and local level, and consult local organisations on how infrastructure projects may be appropriately funded in future.

Commenting on the new report, the chief executive of think tank Localis, Jonathan Werran said: ‘Places need a sense of autonomy, pride and money, locally-earned revenue that allows them to be self-sufficient and freed from dependence on the central state. This might entail some sort of loose English federalism, boosted by the transfer of powers and budgets from Whitehall.

‘When it comes to doling out money from the centre, the Shared Prosperity Fund and whatever replaces this in turn must be seen, felt and experienced to deliver economic and social uplift that impacts on the lives of ordinary people.’

Last month, the housing secretary James Brokenshire was quizzed by MPs on the committee about the current status of the fund.

‘There has been discussion that has continued on the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund over the past year,’ he told the committee.

‘We have had 25 engagement events across the UK, with over 500 people, representing a breadth of different sectors. Whilst, yes, I would want to see the consultation starting at the earliest opportunity, the work has continued to structure, to listen. We remain committed to consulting widely on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.’




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