The UK Government has reached an agreement with the EU about investment for the region which will boost jobs and growth. This will mean that over £600 million in funding will now flow to the region over the next five years. The North East gets more money back from the EU than it pays in and the funds invest in projects which create jobs and growth. But the money has been delayed due to the lack of devolution in England meaning that the programme will be run centrally from London rather than being based in the region as it was in the past.
The European Union allocates regional funds to areas of Europe to help boost jobs growth and this includes the North East. The money is allocated to programmes such as the European Regional Development Fund and has supported projects big and small in the region over recent decades. Current investment projects include the Hartlepool Growth Hub, the Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park, the Consett Business Park, the Vaux site redevelopment in Sunderland, The Core Building at Science Central in Newcastle and the Northumberland Rural Growth Network.
The funds have been delayed due to the abolition of Regional Development Agencies which used to be responsible for the distribution of the money in the region. They have been replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) which are not recognised by the European Commission as they do not have sufficient governance processes in place to handle large amounts of investment. This means that the programme has been centralised in London and the regional allocations are just notional. The North East has effectively lost control of its regional spending in a backward step for devolution.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said "With the Tories making cuts to the money invested in the region it means that EU funds have become ever more vital so this announcement is very welcome. This round of European funds have been delayed because the government abolished One North East without thinking of the consequences. It's been replaced by two LEPs which don't have the same status or resources. We've been badly let down by the Government on this. The programme has now been centralised in London and we'll be making sure that we get our fair share of the money"
Paul Brannen MEP said "European funds are a vital source of investment for the region. These funds have invested in the Angel of the North, Durham County Cricket Club and Saltholme Wildlife Reserve near Hartlepool. The most recent programme has invested in the jobs of the future with projects such as the new business hub in Darlington. The EU is actively investing in the region and the fact that the UK Government is responsible for delays in this money flowing is shocking."