Minister blasts Shared Prosperity Fund as ‘an assault on devolution in Wales’
Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government, has accused the UK Government of a “an assault on devolution in Wales” and says UK ministers have failed to meet repeated promises that Wales “will not be a penny worse off” after the UK left the EU.
Her comments follow an analysis of Westminster’s plans for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which replaces the European Regional Development and European Social Funds.
Following the methodology used by the UK Government in relation to its UKSPF calculations, the Welsh Government says it has lost funding of £772m under the new arrangements.
The Conservatives manifesto for the 2019 election pledged to replace and “at a minimum match the size” of former EU funding in each nation of the UK.
Last month, The UK Government announced conditional allocations for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, saying it has matched previous EU funding but with less bureaucracy and more local control.
The fund includes £559 million for Multiply, a UK-wide adult numeracy programme, to offer maths courses for adults with no or low maths skills, including a digital learning platform.
The Welsh Government has also raised serious concerns about this schemes which the minster says is “a further unacceptable encroachment by the UK Government into a devolved policy area and will conflict with and duplicate existing provision in Wales” and will topslice £101m from its funding.
Overall, England will receive £1.588 billion from the fund, Wales £585 million, Scotland £212 million, Northern Ireland £127 million, with the remaining £129 million being allocated for the central system needed for Multiply.
Under the EU aid system, the Welsh government administered the cash in agreement with the European Commission.
Under the new scheme, local authorities will be encouraged to work together on regional committees to decide how the money will be used – with the Welsh Government effectively bypassed on spending decisions.
In a written statement, the minister noted: “The decision to bypass the Welsh Government and directly allocate replacement EU funding, at a dramatically diminished level, through UK-wide funds is not only an assault on devolution in Wales, but as the figures in this statement clearly show, also a failure to meet repeated promises that Wales “will not be a penny worse off” after the UK left the EU.
“Having less say over less money means there will be hard decisions to make for the Welsh Government and other institutions across business, higher education and further education, and the third sector who have used Structural and Investment Funds to support vital investments in research and innovation, business competitiveness, skills, employability, zero-carbon, sustainable communities, infrastructure and connectivity, and support for vulnerable people.
“These sectors have already raised concerns with the Welsh Government about the funding gaps they face as a result of the UK Government’s actions.
“The UK Government’s decision to bypass the Welsh Government and directly allocate replacement EU funding, at a dramatically diminished level, through UK-wide funds is not only an assault on devolution in Wales, but as the figures in this statement clearly show, also a failure to meet repeated promises that Wales “will not be a penny worse off” after the UK left the EU.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.