UK Government’s EU fund replacement amounts to ‘pork barrel politics’ says Senedd member
The UK Government’s proposed replacement for money Wales received while part of the EU amounts to “pork barrel politics,” a Senedd member has said.
Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth took aim at the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund in the Senedd, saying that it “falls way short” in matching the size of EU structural funds that Wales had previously and what had been promised by Brexiteers.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, the Senedd member for Ynys Môn, said that the £16m allocation for Ynys Môn was but a fraction of the funding that would be available through the EU structural funds.
“This is good old-fashioned pork barrel politics, isn’t it?” he asked.
“We heard recently that Ynys Môn would be getting some £16m from the so called Shared Prosperity Fund.
“There’s no escaping the fact that this is a fraction of the funding available under EU structural funds and falls way short of the UK Government’s promise that we wouldn’t lose a penny after Brexit – which the Conservatives clearly don’t mind one bit.
“It’s a mess but my question relates to the fact that this is an un-strategic mess. Does the First Minister agree that there’s no joined up thinking here from the UK Government, no long-term plan, and can he tell me what pressure Welsh Ministers can try to bring to bear on their UK counterparts to try to make subsequent funding rounds at least a little bit more strategic in nature?”
The First Minister Mrk Drakeford said that he agreed “entirely with what the Member said”.
“This was a fund announced in 2017, in a Conservative Party manifesto. It took until the start of this month—April 2022—before we’ve had any substantive discussions with UK Ministers about the way in which they intend those funds to be used in Wales.
“It’s not just that we’re getting less money, it’s being less well spent. I think that’s the fundamental objection to it,” he said.
Earlier, Conservative Senedd Member Paul Davies, who is chair of the Senedd Economy Committee, had asked the First Minister on what basis the Welsh Government was claiming that it would be £1bn worse off as a result of the lass of EU funds.
“Now, you and your colleagues have stated clearly that you believe that Wales is £1 billion worse off as a result of these recent announcements,” he said.
“So, can you tell us how the Welsh Government has reached that figure of £1 billion, and will you publish an analysis and breakdown of how you’ve worked out that figure?”
Mark Drakeford responded: “We are happy to explain how we’ve got to those figures, and we are happy to publish the figures too, because they are clear—they are clear—and there is no doubt whatsoever about these figures.
“We will lose £0.75 billion because of the system used by the UK Government to replace the structural funds. And we will lose £243 million from the funds that would have come to Wales from European Union programmes in the rural sphere too.
“So, we have the figures, we have that analysis and we’re happy to publish it just to demonstrate what the UK Government have done in cutting the funding.”
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