Continued wait for EU replacement cash means Conservative government ‘short-changing Oldham’, says Sykes

Oldham Liberal Democrats are disappointed that promised government cash to replace the development grants previously provided by the European Union is too little and still hasn’t arrived.

In the last round of European funding (2014-2020), the ten Greater Manchester authorities received £322.75m [European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) (£176.78m) and the European Social Funding (ESF) (£145.97m)]. Over each of the six years this represented £53.8m per year.

In 2017, the Conservatives promised to replace these funds with a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund once the UK exited the European Union. Ministers now say they plan to launch this in 2022 and in the meantime have made only £220 million available this year through a stopgap UK Community Renewal Fund. Local authorities have been invited to bid, with those councils in greater need being invited to apply for up to £3 million and given priority.

Councillor Howard Sykes, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, has described this as ‘short-changing Oldham’. He explained why: “The Prime Minister may talk a lot about ‘levelling up’ but for all his talk he has done very little.

“If before Brexit each of the GM authorities received an average of £5.4 million per year in EU funding, we have now been invited to ‘bid’ for £3 million, clearly much less than before in Oldham where we have been seriously ‘short-changed’ by austerity. In a bidding war nothing is guaranteed, and we have yet to see any cash.”

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