Region's annual £2.3m post-Brexit funding shortfall revealed
- Credit: PA
Norfolk and Suffolk is receiving about 20pc less of the funding it used to get each year from the European Union, an analysis has revealed.
The two counties have been allocated some £27m of funding over the next three years from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) - a grant pot designed by the government to replace money that used to come from the EU.
But on average, an analysis by this newspaper shows that Norfolk and Suffolk are together receiving about £2.3m less per year than they used to, even before inflation since the UK’s days as an EU member is accounted for.
In each year from 2014 until 2020, the region received about £11.3m in European structural funds, which were used to boost innovation, businesses, skills and employment across the region, along with projects to improve social inclusion.
Under the UKSPF however, the counties are only receiving about £9m each year from April 2022 until April 2025.
The government has stressed that the money is “designed to succeed and improve upon EU structural funds. The UKSPF is not a direct replacement for EU structural funds”.
They add: “It improves on these funds by focusing on UK priorities rather than policies dictated by the EU [and] giving local areas a greater say in investments, by giving more direct accountability to elected local leaders.”
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In total, Norfolk has been allocated some £15m over the next three years and Suffolk about £12m. We approached each Norfolk council to ask how they will be spending their share of the pot.
Broadland District Council is proposing to fund a ‘Pride in Place’ programme, aimed at building on the vital work carried out by mutual aid groups of volunteering residents during the Covid lockdowns. This could include the creation of ‘community hubs’ offering a range of services across the area, from debt welfare to community cafes.
It will also seek to fund projects in the district which can contribute to the so-called ‘Cambridge-Norwich tech corridor’, with the intention of creating “a top-tier destination for technology businesses, talent and investors”.
In addition, the council hopes to tackle unemployment by addressing the barriers to businesses offering placements and taking on apprentices.
The council is set to receive about £1.3m over three years.
Breckland Council hopes to use its £1.6m three-year allocation to support skills programmes, including green skills courses to ensure the district has a skilled workforce contributing towards the government’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
It also plans to spend it on ‘quick wins’ to improve town centres, such as improving accessibility for disabled people, as well as supporting new start-up businesses.
A Great Yarmouth Borough Council spokesman said no specific details on how the borough would be spending its £1.3m three-year allocation could be shared at this stage.
King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
The Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk is receiving the biggest three-year allocation of Norfolk’s seven districts - some £1.8m.
The authority intends to use it to help the area become more of a cultural destination for visitors, as well as encouraging clean and active travel, public transport, helping new businesses and creating better quality, higher-skilled jobs across the borough.
North Norfolk District Council said it had submitted a plan to the government outlining how it will be using its £1.2m three-year allocation, but declined to provide any specific examples of projects set to be funded at this stage.
Virginia Gay, the authority’s Liberal Democrat cabinet member for leisure, wellbeing and culture, insisted however that the projects “will be tailored specifically to the issues our rural district faces”.
A Norwich City Council spokeswoman said the authority was submitting a plan to the government next week over how it will be using its £1.6m allocation, and that it will be able to share details after that.
South Norfolk Council plans to use its £1.6m allocation to enhance local green spaces and improve local retail, hospitality and the leisure sector across the district.
It also wants to boost skills among adults that have no or low-level qualifications, as well as providing targeted support for small and medium-sized businesses.
Norfolk County Council
About a third of Norfolk’s total funding, some £4.7m, is going to the county council - and has been ring-fenced by the government to be used for the ‘Multiply’ adult numeracy programme.
The programme is aimed at those aged 19 or over who don’t already have a Maths GCSE at grade C or equivalent.
The programme was created as part of a government effort to ensure adults with poor maths skills are able to unlock job opportunities, gain higher wages or prepare for further study.
The government points out that numeracy also helps in everyday life, such as helping children with homework and managing a household budget.
Margaret Dewsbury, the council’s Conservative cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “This funding is very welcome as it helps support our aim for people in Norfolk to have the skills they need to access employment, further education and qualifications.
“We’re looking forward to working together with local providers to deliver these courses.
“People can find out more information on all the courses we offer at norfolk.gov.uk/adultlearning.”