SCOTLAND and Wales will receive tens of millions of pounds earmarked to help grow Yorkshire’s economy after the Supreme Court narrowly decided not to force a rethink by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The seven Supreme Court judges decided by a margin of four to three that Mr Cable’s decision to shift up to £50m originally destined for Yorkshire to other parts of the UK was legal.
European Union funding was due to fall for all parts of the UK between 2014 and 2020 but Ministers decided to cushion the blow to the devolved nations at the expense of South Yorkshire and Merseyside which together took the Government to court.
The judgment suggested that one of the judges was initially minded to find in the councils’ favour only to change his view.
Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan, who has campaigned on the issue with Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey, said: “To hear that three out of the seven Supreme Court justices believed that South Yorkshire has lost out unfairly through a flawed allocation process, with one justice describing the Government’s cuts to South Yorkshire as ‘manifestly inappropriate’ is galling.”
Mr Healey added: “In the last weeks of this Parliament, the Government have got away with doing damage to our region that will be felt years from now.
“They may have won on a point of law, but the Government’s decision to divert £50m of funding from our area to richer parts of the UK remains an outrage.”
The EU money, known as “structural funds”, are designed to help poorer parts of Europe grow their economies faster and catch up to the rest.
The last round of funding helped to support a wide range of projects across Yorkshire including the building of business parks, new university facilities, support for entrepreneurs and established businesses, transport links and broadband access.
While the EU allocates money to different regions, member states have freedoms to decide how and where it is spent and the Supreme Court decided Mr Cable had not acted beyond his powers.
The Government’s allocations for the next funding round mean that the Highlands and Islands of Scotland will receive E478 euros per person compared to E117 in South Yorkshire.
Sheffield City Council leader Coun Julie Dore said: “Because the decision was so close it does vindicate the decision by the local authorities to go ahead with the appeal and to fight for the rights of our communities. This amount of money would make a massive difference to individuals and businesses within our communities.”
Calling for greater transparency, Coun Dore said that it was “quite clear” that the Government had decided to favour the devolved nations and, within England, had moved money to more prosperous parts of the country.
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said: “This ruling ends a long period of uncertainty and we can now focus on getting this EU funding out to all parts of the UK.”