EU Referendum

Councils' cash from EU 'should be guaranteed' if withdrawn

A Union Jack flag flies next to European Union flags Image copyright EPA

The government should guarantee English councils will still receive the £5.3bn they had been allocated from EU funds, the Local Government Association says.

It said councils in England had been expecting to receive regeneration funding from the EU by 2020, before the UK voted to leave the union this week.

Councils must also take part in talks to rewrite EU laws, the LGA said.

Tory MP David Davies, who supported Leave, said an extra £9bn a year would be available once the UK leaves the EU.

It comes after the UK voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU.

In June 2013, then business secretary Vince Cable announced how the £5.3bn from the EU would be spent from 2014-2020.

The money comes from the European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to help economic growth in certain areas.

More than £600m was allocated to London, while £400m was allocated to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The LGA called for the UK government to guarantee that the councils would still get that money even if it is no longer provided by the EU. It said this was vital "to avoid essential growth-boosting projects stalling and local economies across England being stifled".

The organisation - which represents 349 English councils - said local authorities must now play a "central" role in bringing communities back together, following the vote.

It said EU regulations impacted upon many local services, including waste and environmental services, and councils "need a seat around the table when decisions are taken over how to replace EU laws".

"There cannot be an assumption that power over these services is simply transferred from Brussels to Westminster," the LGA said.

"Decades of centralised control over funding and services has distanced our residents from the decisions that affect their everyday lives. With greater control in our areas we can improve services and save money."

Image copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Some local councils have already said they will seek assurances over EU funding, following the vote for Brexit.

Cornwall Council leader John Pollard said he wanted "investment equal to that provided by the EU programme".

The county has received £1bn of aid over the past 15 years and had been allocated more than £400m by 2020 to support its economy.

And the leader of Northumberland County Council called on the government to protect his area from any loss of European funding, saying "services will be damaged and jobs" if lost funding is not replaced.

'More than happy'

Concerns have also been expressed in Wales - which has received £4bn in structural funding from the EU since 2000, according to the Welsh government.

However, Conservative MP Mr Davies said the £19bn a year the UK currently pays into the EU would be available to the UK to allocate as it wishes once it leaves the EU, rather than relying on what it currently gets back in grants and funding.

He said he was "more than happy" to work with the Welsh government to ensure Wales did not lose any funding.

"We pay £19bn [a year] into the EU, we get about £10bn back at the moment," he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it was "important to understand that there will be no immediate changes" following the vote.

"We must now prepare for a negotiation to exit the EU that will ensure the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom are protected and advanced," the spokesman added.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites