With a further round of negotiations and discussions in Westminster and Wales on the priorities for Brexit this week, the WLGA is today calling for urgent clarity on post-Brexit regional funding in supporting Welsh communities.
EU regeneration funding has been used to support employment, business growth and economic regeneration in Welsh communities. This includes the Structural Funds and Rural Development Plan in Wales and annually amounts to £295m and £80m respectively. Combined with additional match funding from wider sources, this is a significant funding pot that will cease at the end of 2020.
The UK Government has pledged to establish a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to replace EU regional aid funding from 2021. To date, only scant detail has been given on this proposed fund.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) is calling on the UK Government to establish a clear timetable for engagement that would respect the devolved settlement in Wales.
Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport), Leader of the WLGA said:
“Although Wales voted to leave the European Union, it did not vote to become poorer or any worse off.
“Welsh communities have their own distinct circumstances and needs, to which our funding programmes have been tailored to make the most of any public or private sector driven economic opportunities. Such funding has been vital in delivering jobs, skills and economic regeneration right across Wales.
“As councils are the implementers of over 60% of EU law, WLGA has been working closely with Welsh and UK Governments in anticipation of Brexit. However, it is clear that more detail is urgently needed on the proposed UKSPF if Welsh councils are to be able to adequately prepare for the mammoth changes ahead.
“Had we remained in the EU, councils would have already been planning projects for the next round of structural funding – as our European neighbours have already started doing – for 2021-27. If Welsh residents are not to lose out, local government urgently needs clarity from the UK Government on the detail of UKSPF.
“As part of developing a new regional policy for Wales, the WLGA has consistently called for a new approach that is fully devolved to ensure a model that is effective and fit for purpose in addressing the challenges and opportunities of the modern Welsh economy.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Key examples of schemes delivered by Local Government within the current 2014-20 programmes include:
- Local management and delivery of tourism infrastructure schemes as part of the Visit Wales Tourism Attractor Destinations project
- Development and delivery of business sites and premises
- Regional and Local Employability and Skills projects – supporting people back into work, progressing people within work and youth support and engagement.
- Strategic management and governance of local Rural Development Plan partnerships.
In developing a new regional policy for Wales, the WLGA is calling for:
Ensuring replacement funding levels in full, as per the promises made prior to the referendum.
An approach that respects devolution in Wales.
A commitment towards working in partnership and co-design of future policy, to ensure that future programmes are fit for purpose in addressing local, regional and national priorities.
Planning certainty through multi-annual funding. A long term approach to future regional investment is required if we are to deliver the changes to the Welsh Economy that are required in order to increase productivity and deliver long term sustainable economic growth across all parts of Wales.
Existing and emerging Regional Partnership Structures provide key building blocks to develop and deliver the approach to future Regional Investment in Wales after Brexit
 Welsh Government White Paper: Securing Wales’ Future (https://beta.gov.wales/brexit)