MP’s challenge to Prime Minister after £300m EU funding win

John Healey MP challenged the Prime Minister after winning European funding for South Yorkshire that the government had been against.

Late last week EU leaders agreed the UK should receive ‘Transition Regions’ funding from a pot worth €31.6 billion.

It will mean more than £300 million for South Yorkshire to be spent on boosting growth and jobs.

Mr Healey said: “I am glad to say Europe over-ruled government resistance.

“To the end UK ministers opposed this money which will help kick-start South Yorkshire’s economy and generate growth that will be multiplied several times over.”

Last Monday (4 February) Mr Healey led a cross-party cross-area delegation to the business minister Michael Fallon in a last ditch bid to get the government to change their stance.

In the House of Commons yesterday Mr Healey challenged the Prime Minister over his government’s opposition.

The Wentworth and Dearne MP said: “Will the Prime Minister welcome the budget agreement to introduce transition regions, which should give a useful boost to economic growth and investment and should be worth an extra £300 million to us in South Yorkshire?

“Will he pay tribute to the local authorities, led by all political parties, that argued so strongly for this support?

“Will he explain why the Government remained opposed to transition regions right until the very end?”

As well as meeting the minister, Mr Healey and other MPs – Conservative Jeremy Lefroy and Lib Dem Tim Farron – wrote to Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy.

Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan was also instrumental in fighting for Transition Regions money to be included when the EU budget for the next seven years (2014-2020) was finalised.

She 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.”

Eleven UK regions are Transition Regions, including South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and 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 will 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.