Calls for UK Government to set out plans to replace EU funding in Wales after months of 'dithering'

161121 borris and welsh sec- PA
Credit: PA

The UK Government has faced further demands to set out details of its plans to replace European Union funding both in Wales and across the UK.

For the last two decades, Wales has received significant funds from the EU, estimated at around £375m a year in aid known as ‘structural funding.’ 

As part of Brexit and election pledges, Boris Johnson’s government has repeatedly promised that Wales and other devolved nations will receive at least as much from proposed replacement funds.

A number have already been announced, but details of the main replacement, known as the Shared Prosperity Fund, remain vague. 

A year ago the UK Government was promising a full announcement within weeks. 

This week the Welsh Secretary promised that those details would be forthcoming later this month but that the SPF wouldn’t be the only money replacing EU funding.

MPs gathered in the House of Commons on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Credit: PA

Several MPs called for more information, including the Conservative MP for Wrexham and the Labour MP for Ogmore.

Chris Elmore said: "We have seen months and years of dither and delay… about when the share prosperity fund will be delivered and when we will have dates for local authorities in order to plan.

“Can the Secretary of State simply set out when the shared prosperity fund will be confirmed, when the dates for bidding will take place, and when will local government get the information it needs in order to bid for this long-overdue funding?”

In response, the UK Government’s Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: "He obsesses with the UK shared prosperity fund, we have been very clear about when that is coming through, a further announcement this year and of course into next, but he deliberately ignores the levelling-up fund, the community renewal fund, the community ownership fund and all of those other funds which have been such a success in Wales.”

He added: “It would be a whole lot better for future investors and job creation if he spent a little bit more time championing Wales and a little less time criticising it.”

Simon Hart had previously been tackled on the matter by the Shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith who asked: "What in depth discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Welsh Government on the shared prosperity fund and when can we expect more information?”

The Welsh Secretary said the new programmes would prove to be better than the EU schemes they're replacing. 

He added: "The honourable lady fixates a bit too much on the Shared Prosperity Fund when there are so many other funding sources out there too, but I would remind her apart from stressing that there is a consultation on a range of these things, I'm hoping to meet the First Minister later on this week to discuss these things. 

“Welsh Government is not the only game in town. We are engaging with more people in more parts of wealth than has ever been the case before and the funding settlements reflect their priorities as much as anything else. And I'm astonished that she's not welcoming this.”