Thursday, January 9, 2014

News: Rotherham to lead fight for EU funding

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Rotherham Council is leading on a multi-million pound judicial review regarding the government's allocation of European funding.

The government last year 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 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.

It led to local MPs and local leaders considering a legal challenge into the government's decision.

In an update to Rotherham Council's deputy leader, the Resources directorate said that the council's legal team is leading on a multi-million pound judicial review on behalf of the South Yorkshire and the Merseyside City Regions, regarding the government's allocation of European funding.

A judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

European programmes such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) have supported projects in Rotherham such as The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the Nuclear AMRC (pictured), 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.

A significant proportion of the total 2007-2013 ERDF programme allocation is now legally committed with over 100 live projects delivering activity across Yorkshire and the Humber. Further proposals have been completing the application and approval process in order to meet the December 31 2013 deadline. Projects will have up to June 2015 to use the funding.

The government is also currently consulting on which areas will be given "Assisted Area status" in the next round of funding. The status allows small businesses and large enterprises in less economically advantaged locations to benefit from additional financial support under EU Regional Aid guidelines.

The draft map of assisted areas includes all wards in Rotherham except one - Anston & Woodseats.

The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the government's new model to promote economic development, has been tasked with putting together an investment strategy to outline how the EU funding will be used in the region to boost the economy.

James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said: "This new programme is vitally important and a significant tool to drive growth and create jobs and while the settlement of €203m for the Sheffield City Region is welcomed it was also disappointing when we consider the region is due a larger allocation. This will inevitably impact on our ability to generate growth, increase employment, and tackle exclusion.

"We still hope that Government will reconsider its indicative allocations and provide us with the tools to deliver our vision for Sheffield City Region."

Sheffield City Region website

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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