Our key analysis on theoretical UK Cohesion policy funding if it remained in the EU published in February 2019 was the centerpiece of recent discussions on UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF), with Members of UK Parliament and Government outlining the need for the SPF to at least match CPMR estimates.
Our research carried out earlier this year on the theoretical UK Cohesion Policy funding shows that UK regions would receive €13 billion under the future EU Cohesion programme, if it remained in the EU. According to our projections, this represents 22% more than the current 2014-2020 programme, an increase which is in particular due to growing regional disparities in the UK. Indeed, 7 UK areas in total would classify as ‘less developed regions’ for the post-2020 period and therefore be entitled to receive further significant EU support.
The UK Government has confirmed the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will replace the EU’s structural funds after Brexit. The first national debate on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund took place at the House of Commons on 14 May 2019.
During the debate, several MPs alternately referred to CPMR analysis by calling for a UK Shared Prosperity Fund that tackles regional inequalities, drives economic growth and ensures that the most disadvantaged and hard to reach regions do not suffer from Brexit:
- Dan Jarvis, Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central and Mayor of the Sheffield City Region opened up the debate by calling for a guarantee by Government that Brexit will not lead to a loss of funding for UK regions after 2021. He also emphasized that “certain areas with a specific interest in the work of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions were due to get an even greater proportional increase: South Yorkshire, Tees Valley and Durham, Lincolnshire, southern Scotland, parts of outer London, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, West Wales and the valleys”.
- Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, mentioned that based on CPMR research, South Yorkshire will lose £605 million in the process and argued that an equal amount of funding should be allocated to the areas that qualify as less developed regions, even if some of those areas voted to leave EU.
- Finally, MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey and former CPMR Vice-President, Drew Hendry outlined that after decades of no or little investment in the highlands and islands of Scotland, this region would have finally been entitled to €180 million EU structural funds. He added that both, Scotland and its regions voted in great numbers to remain within EU and that therefore the level of funding should be at least maintained at its current level.
UK government recognizes CPMR projections
Last week, the same CPMR research was also referred to by the UK Government. The British Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) responded indeed to a joint statement initiated by Cornwall Council and gathering 10 leaders representing the Less Developed Regions in the UK.
Through this statement, UK regions called for an ambitious new regional policy thanks to an adequately funded and clear UK Shared Prosperity fund and in particular addressing regional inequalities. Those UK regions highlighted the need to return the decision-making process to the regions and to ensure the new fund at least matches the €13 billion that UK regions would have received under the next EU funding round, as per the CPMR projections.
In its response letter to this joint statement the MHCLG recognises the importance of providing a clear UK Shared Prosperity Fund and that it will tackle regional inequalities and address left behind areas:
“The publication of the recent report by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions recognizes the need to tackle these inequalities and harness the economic potential of all areas across the UK, including Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly”
All 10 leaders urge Government to publish the long-overdue consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.