Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor, has stood by a claim Merseyside would lose more than £10.2m in funding after Brexit, telling the government “we will not accept crumbs off the table.”
Between 2014 and 2020, nearly £28m of EU money was given to organisations in the Liverpool City Region every year or £250m in total. From 2015 to 2022, the combined authority directly received nearly £83m with £51m of that going to different councils in the region.
The money went towards programmes to get people into work, diversity and inclusion work, and to develop urban areas. Since the UK left the EU in early 2020, these programmes have wound down and will finish by the end of 2023.
After Brexit, the UK Government pledged to match this funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) as part of its levelling up agenda. £44m was announced for the Liverpool City Region made up of £5m in 2022, £10.7m in 2023, and £28.2m in 2024.
The Liverpool City Region will also receive an additional ring fenced £8.4m to help improve maths skills amongst adults bringing the total to more than £52m over three years.
Some of the money has already gone towards helping people out during the cost of living crisis with £4.7m supporting the voluntary and community sector and £3.3m to reduce food poverty, improve green spaces, and tackle antisocial behaviour.
The combined authority argues the region is set to lose more than £10m each year under current proposals despite UK government funding in 2024 being more that year than previous EU funding.
The £44m UKSPF funding which runs until 2025 equates to £14.8m per year and £17.6m when ringfenced funding is included but by 2024 when EU programmes are no longer running, UK Government funding that year is £28.2m.
Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “When we left the European Union, the government guaranteed that we would benefit from at least the same level of funding that the EU had provided – in fact it was a manifesto commitment. Put simply, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is not what we were promised.
“With the funding we do have, we’ll be working hard to continue providing the transformative projects we’ve been delivering for our 1.6m residents, some of which if they were left to the government would have been brought to a grinding halt.
“Our region is set to lose around £10.2m annually under UKSPF – a cut of 37%. But where the government is rowing back, the Combined Authority is stepping up and stepping in to protect vital services, like the £2m package we invested to secure the future of our life-changing Households into Work programme.
“We will not accept crumbs off the table. I’ll continue to fight our corner for the funding our region deserves and working to build a fairer, greener and thriving Liverpool City Region.”
The government says the reason for less funding in 2022 and 2023 was because the EU programmes are still operating and that funding would be matched by 2025.
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities spokesperson said: “Liverpool will receive over £44 million from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund across the next three years. Local people will have a say in how this will be used to create opportunities including supporting local businesses and investing in employment and skills training.
“This matches previous EU funding and gives Liverpool residents control over how the money is spent rather than Brussels – taking into account local needs and ensuring money goes to areas that need it the most.”