As fears grow that English regions are set to miss out on up to £1bn worth of European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) as a result of UK government cuts, Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN, has praised the performance of the Welsh Government in delivering match-funding to ensure the same thing does not happen in Wales.
Tomorrow (Thu 19 Jan), Labour MEPs, will be sending a letter to Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, asking the European Commission to examine the position in England. The allocation of funding to projects in England has been put in jeopardy due to the decision by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government to abolish Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), and the lack of clarity of where their responsibilities now lie and where match-funding will come from.
In Wales the situation has been much smoother. ERDF support is distributed by the Welsh Government, via the Welsh European Funding Office, and, as of 31st Dec 2011, had supported over 1 900 enterprises, creating almost 10 000 jobs during the current 2007-2013 funding round.
Mr Vaughan said:
"In England, the system appears to be in complete disarray with vital funding targeted at deprived communities going unspent.
With no clear plan to replace RDAs and no indication of where the replacement match funding will come from, there is great concern that the lack of commitment by the UK government to creating jobs and economic growth will see large parts of England missing out. At the moment England could potentially lose about £1.1bn.
In sharp contrast, Labour in Wales has already committed £893m of ERDF to a variety of projects that are making a huge difference to communities across Wales in tackling educational and economic inequality.
Wales is on target to take advantage of the £1.1bn earmarked under ERDF despite the shrinking budgets available to the Welsh Government, local authorities and other organisations. With the failure of George Osborne to give cast-iron assurances on the situation in England, people are casting an envious eye at how well we are doing here in Wales."