Posted: 4 February, 2013 at 11:04 am

MP leads fight for £22m of European funding for growth and jobs

MP leads fight for £22m of European funding for growth and jobs

JOHN Healey MP is leading a push to secure at least £220m of European funding to boost growth and jobs in South Yorkshire.

The Wentworth and Dearne MP is fighting for the UK to receive ‘Transition Regions’ funding from a pot worth at least €30bn.

But the Government are currently opposed to the idea, saying their top priority is “budgetary restraint.” They are arguing for any regional funds to go only to areas in Eastern Europe.

Mr Healey today (Monday 4 February) met the business minister Michael Fallon to press the case, along with Conservative and Lib Dem MPs Jeremy Lefroy and Tim Farron, and Martin Cantor, executive officer at Barnsley Council.

In addition the MPs have written to Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy.

The trio said in the letter: “We represent regions of the UK with a combined population of over 12 million people and a very substantial potential for growth if given the right support.”

The EU budget for the next seven years (2014-2020) is expected to be finalised later this week. This will include a decision on Transition Regions funding.

Eleven UK regions are potential Transition Regions, including South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire.

These regions are defined as having GDP between 75 and 90 per cent of the EU average.

As well as the funding, Transition Region status would give these areas more flexibility on how the money could be spent, allowing them to respond to local priorities and build infrastructure.

South Yorkshire could be expected to spend the money on helping people into work, offering more apprenticeships and training, reducing emissions, building flood defences and helping business to export more and benefit from new technologies.

Mr Healey said: “Areas like South Yorkshire have great potential. This money would help kick-start the local economy, and generate growth that would be multiplied several times over.

“This would be a ‘win’ for Britain and could be worth over £200m to us in South Yorkshire.

“The Government must not be short-sighted. The UK would more than get back any money it puts in to this pot.

“These are the arguments we are making but the Government have so far turned their back on getting this deal for our regions. Disappointingly, at the meeting today the minister repeated the Government line that they want a smaller budget, less regional funding and focused on countries other than Britain.”

Mr Healey has also teamed up with Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan who has spoken to Commissioner Hahn about it.

Ms McAvan said: “It is so important for regions like South Yorkshire to receive ‘Transitional’ funding from Europe. The last round of European funding in our region was much needed and well spent, bringing jobs, businesses and investment to the area.

“As the Government continues to fail to invest in regions like ours, European funding is needed now more than ever to continue the good work that previous rounds of funding started.”