Tuesday, August 16, 2016

News: Government guarantees for some EU funding

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European Union (EU) funded projects signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU, the Government has said.

Rothbiz reported following the historic referendum vote that a number of key regeneration and business support projects in the Sheffield city region (SCR) face a funding black hole if EU structural funding allocated to the region is not replaced.

Over €200m in EU funding was expected to be used to support businesses, inward investment, infrastructure, innovation and social inclusion in the SCR until 2020.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has confirmed that all structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before the upcoming Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

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The Treasury said that it will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU.

Where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: "We are determined to ensure that people have stability and certainty in the period leading up to our departure from the EU and that we use the opportunities that departure presents to determine our own priorities."

The Sheffield city region LEP's EU Structural Investment Fund Strategy was only updated this year and sets out how €203m (£175m) of funding would be used, based around six main priorities: supporting and creating new businesses; growing existing businesses; attracting incoming businesses; increasing exporting; developing the skills base and labour mobility; improving and enhancing infrastructure.

Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Local Enterprise Partnerships are a vital part of our efforts to rebalance the economy, and have helped create thousands of jobs over the past five years.

"Guaranteeing EU funding will further support this work by enabling them to plan ahead with certainty so businesses, universities and local authorities across the country can enable economic growth."

Six calls were made by the SCR via the Government last year in a bid to secure £17m in EU funds for support in relation to international trade, investment into Enterprise Zones and innovation capital. Calls to secure £12m have been made this year to support SME's, self-employment, renewable energy projects, and improve access to IT.

Through its devolution deals, the Combined Authority was pushing to be given Intermediate Body status and more control over how European funding was spent.

The SCR Growth Hub, the model that coordinates and simplifies business support so that it joins up national, local, public and private business provisions across the city region, has core funding of £4.82m. It estimated that it would bring together a £22m Business Investment Fund, a Skills Bank fund of more than £17m and "access to the Sheffield City Region European Structural Funds of approximately £90m."

Further EU funding was set to be brought into a £51m property investment fund and questions still remain on the new £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) which includes £50m from the European Investment Bank.

Images: European Commission


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