Lib Dems warning Yorkshire could miss out on millions in EU funding

Nick Clegg.
Nick Clegg.
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YORKSHIRE COULD yet miss out on millions of pounds in European cash despite new Government promises, it was claimed today.

The Liberal Democrats produced figures showing just a tiny fraction of the £600m promised to Yorkshire in the latest EU funding round has been allocated to projects.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has promised all projects handed EU cash by the time of his Autumn Statement next month will have the money guaranteed by the UK Government.

Last week he gave a further pledge that projects receiving EU money after that date would still be supported after Brexit, but only if the schemes meet “UK priorities” and are considered “value for money”.

It has been suggested that the latest promise is a way of the Treasury tightening its grip on how and where the money is spent.

During the referendum campaign, senior Leave figures including Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Chris Grayling - all now cabinet ministers - promised to guarantee the UK government would replace Yorkshire’s EU funding if voters backed Brexit.

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat’s Brexit spokesman has blamed David Cameron’s Government for the current uncertainty.

Mr Clegg said: “The previous Conservative Government got us into this Brexit mess, the current Conservative Government must now do everything they can to reassure businesses and investors that Britain is still open for business.

“The least they can do is ensure that vital funding that has been promised to our regions to help grow their economies is delivered for the forseeable future.”

EU money is allocated to areas covered by local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) - bodies which bring councils and business together to grow the local economy.

According to the Lib Dems’ figures, not a single penny of the money earmarked for the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP area has been “legally committed” to projects so far.

In the Humber and Sheffield City Region, 2.3 and 2.4 per cent of the allocation has been allocated respectively while in the Leeds City Region the figure is 0.7 per cent.

The Yorkshire Post understands a raft of further projects are likely to have been approved by the Autumn Statement but significant sums will remain uncommitted.

The current funding round stretches from 2014 to 2020 and in normal times it would be expected that money would be distributed over the whole period.

Labour has promised to match Yorkshire’s current levels of EU funding into the 2020s “and beyond” if it wins the next general election.

A Treasury spokesman said: “As set out by the Chancellor on October 3, the Treasury will guarantee funding for structural and investment fund projects, which are signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after we have left the EU, subject to departments being confident that projects match UK priorities and meet value for money criteria. This is a first step in exercising greater control over the future of the UK’s spending commitments and ensuring they best serve the UK‘s national interest.

“The Treasury will be working with departments to embed this new approach and these conditions will be applied in such a way that the current pipeline of committed projects are not disrupted in Yorkshire and the rest of the country.”