Tuesday, July 23, 2013

News: MP continues fight for EU funding

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Local politicians John Healey MP and Linda McAvan Euro MP have met with the European Commissioner for the Regions to discuss the government's proposals for the allocation of new European Union funding.

The government recently announced that the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (which includes South Yorkshire along with north Nottingham and north Derbyshire districts) can expect €203m for 2014 to 2020 as part of €6.2bn (£5.3bn) of EU Structural and Investment Funds to boost growth under a simplified "Growth Programme."

In the current settlement, South Yorkshire receives €410m. From 2014-2020 this will be cut to €180m.

The EU has granted "transition region" status to South Yorkshire based on its GDP which is 84% of the European regional average. Despite this, the government announced last month that it would be reallocating around 50% of South Yorkshire’s funding to regions such as Scotland which has a GDP of 107%, causing outrage and confusion across the region.

The chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership for the Sheffield City Region, James Newman, joined John and Linda in Brussels to ask the Commissioner to look into the government's decision, and ask if the current proposals were fair.

Mr Healey, the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said: "The Commissioner listened to all our concerns, promised to take a hard look at the government's plans for allocating this money within the UK and said he would raise our questions with the government before giving approval.

"What the UK government is doing breaks the policy, purpose and principles of EU funding, which is to help regions lagging behind with jobs and growth."

Commissioner Hahn confirmed that the government's proposals would be subject to approval from the Commission and that Ministers will have to justify their decision when they submit their final allocations for consideration.

European programmes such as the European Regional Development Fund have support projects in Rotherham such as The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the redevelopment of Rotherham Railway Station, the award-winning enterprise education programme Rotherham Ready, and business support programmes for high growth companies and enterprising exporters.

Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, said: "ERDF has been hugely beneficial for this region and for the government to deny South Yorkshire this funding now, at a time when jobs and living standards are being squeezed, is unnecessarily cruel."

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