VINCE CABLE has refused to back down over calls to give South Yorkshire a fairer share of EU funding – despite a ruling which deemed the original settlement “unlawful”.
Leaders of the Sheffield City Region took their battle to judicial review in February after the Government announced its allocation for 2014 to 2020 would be £203m – a worse-than-expected cut of 61 per cent compared to the last six years.
The High Court saw documents showing the European Commission’s intended allocation for South Yorkshire was around £200m, some £48m more than the Government’s plan, and quashed Ministers’ original decision.
But the Business Secretary has angered MPs by failing to increase funds “substantially” after being ordered to go back to the drawing board.
Mr Cable has set out plans to award around £19m per year to Sheffield City Region. This represents a rise of 14 per cent on the original allocation, but that also includes provision for the inclusion of part of the Derbyshire Dales District Council, which crosses the boundaries of two Local Enterprise Partnership areas.
David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “The decision is entirely down to the British Government as to how funding from the European Union should be distributed, and their choice of putting increased funding into wealthier areas, at the expense of those still facing the worst results of austerity and the outcome of the global meltdown, is a disgrace.
“This is just another example of discrimination against traditional industrial areas in the north, which happens to result in key cabinet Ministers finding resources channelled into their constituencies at the expense of those in greatest need.”
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skill said it could not make a “special case” for South Yorkshire and extra investment would go into less-developed areas including Cornwall and West Wales and the Valleys.
A spokeswoman said: “It is an increase compared to 2013 on allocation.
“This funding is just one way the Government supports growth in the area and we could not justify making South Yorkshire a special case when there are signs its economic outlook has been improving.
“It would have significantly reduced funding for other places also in need.”