Monday, February 10, 2014

News: Sheffield city region wins EU funding challenge

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The High Court has ruled that a reallocation of 50% of South Yorkshire's European funding is unlawful.

Lawyers for Liverpool City Region and Sheffield City Region brought a joint action arguing the reduction was disproportional compared to other areas. It is the first time a successful challenge has been made against EU funding allocations.

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 was a similar story on Merseyside and the two regions asked for a judicial review into the government's decision.

The Judge in the case, which met in Leeds recently, has quashed the funding decision because the Government breached its legal duty to have due regard to the need to, amongst other things, eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity. He has ordered the Government to reconsider its decision.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, said: "The evidence presented to court shows that, based on the Government's own figures, ministers decided to allocate €150 million less to Liverpool City Region and almost €90 million less to South Yorkshire than they themselves had estimated our share of the UK pot to be.

"There is no doubt in my mind that they were guilty of cutting our funding unfairly. In my view this is sheer arrogance and I am pleased our case has been supported in a court of law."

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

Rotherham Council's legal team lead on the review on behalf of the city regions.

Images: Bond Bryan

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