In Parliament this week I pressed the UK Government for assurances on funding for Wales post-Brexit.
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund was pledged in the Conservatives’ 2017 election manifesto as a replacement for the EU Regional Development Fund, which promotes balanced development across the EU, and the European Social Fund, which invests in employment-related projects. A Government consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and post-Brexit funding for regions and nations of the UK was promised before Christmas, but has still not materialised.
In Wales Questions, I asked “EU structural funds have been critical for communities across Wales and it is vital that Wales is not left behind – we need that assurance. So why is it taking so long to get any detail from the Government on the Shared Prosperity Fund, not least the consultation that was promised by the Government before Christmas?”
EU structural funding in Wales has been hugely beneficial over the years. In South East Wales alone EU funding has invested £49million in support for employment and economic growth since 2015; including for successful programmes like Inspire to Achieve and Inspire to Work.
The last Tory manifesto talked up the Shared Prosperity Fund as a new source of funding for the nations and regions of the UK that would be ‘cheap to administer, low in bureaucracy and targeted where it is most needed’. Almost two years on, we are still awaiting an update on what form the Shared Prosperity Fund will take, and what it will mean in practice for Welsh communities.
We now need Ministers to provide a substantive update on what will replace current EU structural funding rounds in Wales when they come to an end in 2020. More than this, we need a concrete assurance that Wales will not receive a penny less under the new fund.