Outrage at South Yorkshire European funding cut

John Healey has slammed plans to slash European funding for South Yorkshire and send it instead to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Wentworth & Dearne MP has been leading a push to secure millions of pounds to boost growth and jobs in South Yorkshire.

He was part of a group who met business minister Michael Fallon and wrote to UK ministers and EU Commissioners.

In February this year EU leaders agreed parts the UK should receive ‘Transition Regions’ funding – despite opposition from the Government.

It had been understood the ‘Transition Regions’ funding for Sheffield City Region for 2014-2020 would be reduced by a third.

But now it is feared the cut will be twice as deep – up to two thirds of current funding levels – meaning a loss of around €40m for South Yorkshire.

The money would be spent 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.

In a letter also signed by Merseyside MP Dave Watts, Mr Healey told Vince Cable: “Our areas face cuts much more savage even than our worst fears, and massively greater than any other part of the UK.

“To intensify our sense of outrage, a major factor in the cuts our areas uniquely face is the Government’s plan to divert funds from South Yorkshire and Merseyside to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“It rubs salt in the wound to be told that the reason for the transfer is to protect those parts of the UK from “sudden and significant reductions” in their funding and limit their losses to 5%.

“In Merseyside and South Yorkshire, meanwhile, we face a cliff edge cut of a half or two-thirds in the EU funds our areas currently receive.”

The letter, copied to Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and European Commissioners, goes on: “This defies any logic or equity. It also fails the test of fair and effective policy decisions by making the deepest cuts in the areas which most need the jobs and business boost.

“This seems to us to ride roughshod over the provisional agreement reached on the budget and the intentions of the EU’s allocations formula.”

The MPs have requested an urgent meeting with Dr Cable.

Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan said: “I have written to the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, asking him to consider the UK government’s proposal to cut South Yorkshire’s funding down to just one third of what we had been expecting.

“South Yorkshire should not be faced with subsidising the devolved regions when the EU has already identified that we are in greater need of the investment due to our ‘transitional region’ status.”