MAJOR BOOST TO THE CAMPAIGN FOR A RURAL STRATEGY:
The Independent Food, Farming & Countryside Commission hosted by the RSA in its report launched on Tuesday 16th July ‘Our Future in the Land’ has added its voice to the calls by the RSN and the House of Lords Select Committee for a comprehensive Rural Strategy (more to follow)
The Local Government Association made the call as it set out an urgent timetable for government to follow to clarify the future of what it described as vital funding after Brexit.
Uncertainty around the future of funding into the next decade risked damaging job creation, employment support and business development, it warned.
Any financial loss if funding was stopped, paused or was of less value, would have a significant impact on businesses, employment and skills, said the LGA.
The government has pledged that communities will continue to benefit from EU regeneration funds until the end of the current programmes in 2020.
It has promised to create a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) after Brexit to replace the regional aid funding local areas currently receive from the EU from 2021 onwards.
But the LGA says little detail has been shared on what the UKSPF will look like and the government has only committed to hold a consultation by the end of 2018.
Council leaders say this would provide insufficient time for local areas to design and deliver new UKSPF funded schemes in time.
Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Taskforce, said: “Brexit cannot leave local areas facing huge financial uncertainty as a result of lost regional aid funding.
Councillor Bentley added: “The clock is ticking for the Government to set out a firm plan to replace this funding into the next decade and beyond.”
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is also calling for a firm commitment from the Government that EU funding to local areas is fully replaced from 2021.
Local areas will need £8.4 billion of EU regional funding replaced after Brexit, it says.
This money has been vital to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills, and boost local growth across the country, in all types of areas.
Examples include the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in Norfolk and Suffolk, which was £86m to support businesses, jobs and help train young people.
Other examples include numerous multi-million pound investments into Cornwall to increase connectivity for 1,200 businesses and local communities.
Councillor Bentley said the LGA wanted to urgently work with the government to help develop a fully-funded and locally-driven successor scheme.
“Without action there is a risk that billions of pounds of investment into our communities will be lost and local areas and economies will be denied desperately-needed funding.”
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