Uncertainty looms over London’s skills, employment and growth funding post Brexit

  • By AnaBaric

London Councils is warning that the future of skills, employment and growth projects across the capital worth more than a half a billion pounds is worryingly uncertain after Brexit.

London boroughs currently run schemes and projects to increase employment and training opportunities, productivity and economic growth that are funded by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

ESIF amounts to £580 million for the 2014-2020 programme in London, which is made up of £160 million for European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) projects that increase productivity and economic growth and £420 million for the European Social Fund (ESF) project to increase employment and skills.

Central government plans to replace this funding with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). However, the details what this funding will be used for and how it will be shared out are not yet clear and a consultation on this has been postponed.

London boroughs fear that any reduction in this investment will have a negative impact on apprenticeship creation, employment and training opportunities and ultimately inclusive growth in the capital.

As part of London Councils’ Pledges to Londoners, London Councils is working hard to ensure that post-Brexit development funding provides at least as much support to London as the current EU ESIF programme and that control over funding is devolved to London government so it can meet the needs of local communities and businesses.

Cllr Clare Coghill, London Councils’ Executive Member for Business, Europe and Good Growth, said:

“It remains worryingly unclear how central government plans to replace European funding schemes post Brexit. A consultation on the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, promised last year, has now been postponed.

“London boroughs will continue to support and empower local communities during the UK’s exit from the EU, but our resources are limited as we have sustained heavy funding reductions over the past decade.

“It is right that central government takes the initiative and provides the certainty needed to support communities and business after we leave the EU.

“It is also important that councils have the opportunity to influence how the UKSPF will work as it will ultimately be invested at a local level. We believe it must deliver the same amount of funding as current schemes with control fully devolved to local areas.”

Securing post-Brexit funding for the skills system for London is one of London Councils’ Pledges to Londoners, which were agreed recently by London’s borough leaders and directly elected mayors. This is the first time London Councils and its member boroughs have signed up to a series of shared commitments on the issues that matter most to Londoners, which they will deliver over the next three years. Visit www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/pledges to find out more.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

London Councils’ key requirements for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund are:

  • London’s share of the UKSPF must be fully devolved to London.
  • Allocation of the UKSPF must be based on a fair measure of need, such as deprivation, not regional Gross Value Added.
  • London needs to receive at least as much funding as it is currently receiving via EU programmes.
  • UKSPF administration needs to be much simpler compared with EU programmes.

London boroughs also use some European transnational funds such as Interreg, Horizon 2020, Creative Europe and Erasmus, which are separate from ESIF.

The government has given no guarantee of continued involvement with these programmes after Brexit. London Councils is calling for continued access to these funds as part of the Brexit negotiations.