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UK Shared Prosperity Fund may disadvantage Londoners

The London Councils group has warned the move from EU regeneration funds to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund ‘may disadvantage Londoners’.

London Councils has joined forces with the Core Cities group to call for radical devolution away from Whitehall as part of their individual Budget submissions to the Treasury.

The two submission documents warn that local authorities need to be able to raise their own funds and be more accountable to their communities for the money they spend.

Both documents call for the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is due to replace various EU funding streams to be devolved.

The London Councils submission adds it is concerned that the switch ‘may disadvantage Londoners’.

It states London currently receives £422m from the European Social Fund (ESF) and £159m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of their 2014-2020 programmes.

It adds these funds have had a ‘major impact’ in London with current ESF programmes expected to support 444,000 individuals, while the ERDF will support nearly 8,000 small businesses.

The London Councils submission calls on the government to urgently clarify the funding arrangements for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and ensure it is ‘devolved locally’ so that ‘decisions sit much closer to the communities they support’.

The Core Cities group submission also calls for the proposed fund to be devolved with seven-year commitments and match funds from Whitehall departments included in the devolved pots.

Last month, New Start reported on a new report by the Industrial Communities Alliance claims the new fund needs to be set at £4bn a year if – as widely predicted – it is to be merged with the British government’s Local Growth Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund was first promised in the 2017 Conservative Party general election manifesto, but details remain patchy about how the fund will actually work.

The two submission documents also call for investment in transport infrastructure and action on climate change.

‘It’s time to end the culture of local Leaders and Mayors from all over the country being forced to go begging to Whitehall for hand-outs each year,’ said London Councils chair, Cllr Peter John.

‘Local communities know how best to promote economic growth and meet the needs of communities in their areas and we need to have the freedoms and powers to do so now.’

The chair of Core Cities, Cllr Judith Blake, added: ‘Government needs to recognise that all places, whether a town or a city, are not islands and their economies rely on each other.

‘This Budget is an opportunity to exploit our economic networks, driving growth across the whole of the UK. For that to happen we must ensure that there is fair funding for every community in the country. Wherever people live, local services are facing an uphill struggle and we must chart a new course, from austerity to prosperity.’

Photo Credit – Free-Photos (Pixabay)

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