Rural Areas: Replacement Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 3rd November 2020.

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Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 3rd November 2020

T3. Mr McAleer asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, given that he will be aware of recent correspondence from the Finance Minister to the Chair of the Finance Committee, which was shared with the Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, that highlighted concerns with how replacement funding will be calculated, in that it could result in a cut in funding for rural communities, to state whether his Department has assessed that and the impact that it might have on local areas. (AQT 603/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Yes. The Treasury has indicated that it thinks it can take £34 million that was previously identified for us. We are contesting that. The figure is slightly less in Scotland per head of population, and significantly greater in Wales. As I understand, it is happening in England as well. We all need to oppose that. Scottish and Welsh colleagues and I have written to the appropriate Ministers at Westminster. We are seeking a meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to ensure that this money is actually paid.

Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for his answer. Recently, we also learned that there has been little or no progress on the shared prosperity fund. Has the Minister any assessment of that? What is his general assessment of the British Government's commitment to replacing the EU funding that will be lost here as a result of leaving the EU?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

There is no indication from any other source that there is a problem. That is money that had not been spent, but would have been spent by 2023. My Department would argue that it has acted prudently in the distribution of that funding and is being punished as a consequence. As I indicated, Wales is suffering even worse as a result. We will continue to argue strongly for that particular funding. However, there is no indication of a problem elsewhere.