The Government has announced £9m to help local areas and major ports prepare for Brexit.
A total of £5m will be given to councils that either have or are near a major air, land or sea port ‘to ensure they will continue to operate efficiently when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October’, officials said.
The remaining £4m will be shared out to local resilience forums (LRFs) across England to support them in their preparations.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said the funding can be used by local areas to support the development of robust Brexit plans for their areas and for continued preparedness activities, including additional staffing costs.
The ministry said the cash brings the total funding allocated to help local areas prepare for Brexit to £77m to date. Although it described the cash as ‘additional’, it noted that it was part of the £2.1bn announced by the Treasury in July.
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: ‘From keeping our supply chains running and ensuring goods continue to flow into the country, to putting robust plans in place for every community, local government is playing a vital role in preparing the country to be fully ready to leave the EU on 31 October.
‘We have stepped up our preparedness significantly in recent weeks, including by asking every council to appoint a brexit lead officer. Now we are releasing an additional £9m of additional funding today to help local areas get ready for Brexit, whatever the circumstances.’
Local authorities in Kent will receive over £2.6m ‘in recognition of the county being home to a number of the significant and busiest ports in the area including the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel, Ashford and Ebbsfleet’.
Kent County Council will receive £1m, with £1.6m being shared between 13 other local authorities in the county.
Officials stressed that the cash ‘is not for the infrastructure of ports’ but that the £5m for local councils with, or near to, a major air, land or sea port is for them to buy in additional staff and specialist expertise where necessary.
They said the £4m for LRFs will be used to support them ‘in the development of robust Brexit plans for their areas and supporting their additional staffing costs’.
Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the money was ‘too little, too late’.
He told the BBC’s Today programme: ‘The Government has been happy to give money to ferry companies that have no ferries, that was £20m, but they have not helped local authorities get ready and we have had to plan to make sure if there is a no deal Brexit that the whole of the M27 doesn’t grind to a halt because of queues of lorries trying to get into the port who can’t get in.’
Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive a total of £1.7m under the Barnett formula as a result of the announcement.