15 Aug 2021 by Tom Law
Wales is being hardest hit by the post Brexit loss of EU Structural Funds, latest figures have shown.
The £373 million lost by Wales is more than double that of Scotland (£125m) and most of the English regions that have previously received European Union support.
Labour say the figures, which show more than £1 billion lost, ‘make a mockery’ of the UK Government’s claims to be ‘levelling up’ the UK.
Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow communities secretary, said: “This research makes a mockery of the Conservatives’ pledge to fix the gigantic regional inequalities they have created.
“Not only is the government failing to fulfill its promise to match what these regions have lost, it is making them bid against each other for what little funding there is, prioritising rich areas over poorer ones.”
The analysis shows the biggest losers in England to be Midlands (£190m), Yorkshire (£143m), Cornwall (£95m), the north-west (£88m) and the north east (£80m).
The EU Structural Fund ended in December 2020 with Wales no longer receiving an annual sum of £373m in economic aid.
The UK Government has pledged to replace the amount lost with a Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) but has yet to provide clear details about how this will work.
In the meantime, £220m funds are being provided by a Community Renewal Fund but this covers all of the UK nations with Wales expecting to receive around £10m.
In a recent interview, First Minister Carwyn Jones said Welsh voters had been promised in 2016 that, “Wales would not be a penny worse off as a result of Brexit.”
He said: “Sadly that is turning out to be absolutely not the case. Wales will be many, many millions of pounds worse off next year as a result of Brexit because the UK Government simply isn’t delivering on that promise.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered his ‘levelling up’ speech in July in which he admitted that the UK had a ‘glaring imbalance’ in its economy.
He said: “It is an astonishing fact that 31 years after German unification, the per capita GDP of the North East of our country, Yorkshire, the East Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland is now lower than in what was formerly East Germany – and I remember going to former East Germany in 1990, just after the wall had gone down.”
While highlighting the problem, his speech was criticised for failing to provide any practical solutions.