William Eichler 07 February 2018

Council chiefs call for ‘locally-driven’ successor to EU aid

Council chiefs have urged the Government to create a ‘locally-driven’ successor scheme to EU regional aid as MPs warn Whitehall is too slow in allocating resources for Brexit.

A new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warns Government departments that they have to face up to ‘hard choices’ in order to deliver Brexit.

Published today, the committee’s report identifies 313 areas of essential Brexit work and says department’s will have to prioritise these over non-Brexit tasks.

However, the PAC also found that the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the Cabinet Office do not have a robust enough plan to identify and recruit the people and skills needed to carry out this work load.

‘It is one thing to identify the amount of work required to deliver Brexit. It is quite another to do it,’ said the committee’s deputy chair.

‘The Government has identified over 300 work streams to complete as a consequence of the UK’s departure from the EU—a byzantinely complicated task with the potential to become a damaging and unmanageable muddle.’

‘It is concerning that Government departments still have so far to go to put their plans into practice,’ they added.

Responding to the report, Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Brexit Task and Finish Group, said: ‘Negotiating our exit from the European Union is clearly a huge task and offers the opportunity to devolve powers to local communities beyond Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont.’

‘We want to urgently work with the Government to help develop a fully-funded and locally-driven successor scheme to EU regional aid which will provide £5.3 billion for local regeneration schemes by 2020.

‘With national funding for regeneration increasingly being depleted, a UK replacement for EU money will be vital to help create jobs, build infrastructure and boost growth.’

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