Fears cuts to EU funding could make immigration in Yorkshire worse

Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council. Photo: JPI Media
Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council. Photo: JPI Media
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Fears have been raised that Brexit may cause Yorkshire to have less control over those who move into the country if lost EU funding of up to £4m used to soften the impact of migration is not guaranteed by the Government.

The Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund (AMIF) was set up by the EU in 2014 to be used by EU member states to support integration of non-EU nationals, including newly recognised refugees.

But organisations which received funding via the UK Government were initially told this would not be replaced after Brexit if the UK leaves without a deal.

Barnsley Council leader and Chair of Migration Yorkshire Stephen Houghton wrote to Chancellor Sajid Javid and said: “Organisations across the country delivering AMIF projects were given assurances that this guarantee included this funding stream.”

And the Government had guaranteed funding for those who bid directly to the European Commission for AMIF money.

But Mr Houghton said this technicality where much funding was delivered through a UK intermediary may have caused an issue.

The letter said: “This funding delivers Government priorities on integration and cohesion, and its removal would have deep consequences. The projects in our region improve refugee employment, reduce homelessness, brings communities together and enables us to mitigate the impact of migration on our host communities.”

It said: “It is clear that in areas such as Barnsley, immigration played a significant part in the vote for leaving the EU. Specifically this included the promise during the campaign, and since by your Government, that Brexit will enable us to better manage migration.

“This new message is an extremely difficult one to give to our local residents, that Brexit means less local control over migration and less integration.”

However yesterday a Home Office Spokesman said: “All projects under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) will continue to receive funding for the lifetime of their projects, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.”

Sheffield Central MP and Shadow Brexit Minister Paul Blomfield said one organisation, Voluntary Action Sheffield, would have lost £441,000 of funding over two years if the money was withheld.

The Home Office said it had received Mr Hougton’s letter and would be replying in due course.