EU Successor Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 14th December 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Justin McNulty Justin McNulty Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:00 pm, 14th December 2020

6. Mr McNulty asked the Minister of Finance what discussions he has had with the UK Government regarding a local consultation on EU successor funding in Northern Ireland. (AQO 1351/17-22)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

EU successor funding will operate within the devolved sphere. As such, I do not consider it appropriate for the British Government to conduct local consultations, and therefore I have not discussed that issue with them. I have emphasised to the British Government the need to respect the devolution settlement and to provide the devolved institutions with the funding to spend according to our local priorities. There is insufficient detail available on the priorities and the delivery arrangements for the proposed shared prosperity fund for us to carry out a sensible consultation exercise here. The British Government have indicated that more details will be available on a pilot programme in January 2021 and for the full programme in March 2021, and we will reconsider the position then.

Photo of Justin McNulty Justin McNulty Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Minister for his answer. Has he engaged with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) and the local government sector on a co-design and regional consultation approach to shared prosperity funding?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

As I said in response to Mr Dickson earlier, the problem is that we do not have the detail on the shared prosperity fund to be able to consult with people. While Scotland and Wales have engaged in some consultation exercises, they have been fairly superficial and subject to change. The Internal Market Bill, which is currently going through Westminster, purports to take responsibility for designing a shared prosperity fund, setting its priorities and applying the funding from Whitehall. That was not the understanding of the devolved Administrations. We, Scotland and Wales clearly understood that EU funding would be replaced to the devolved Administrations, the schemes would be designed by us and the funding would be allocated according to our own local priorities.

So, to engage with council groups — I am happy to talk to them at any time — on the shared prosperity fund at this stage would be premature because we do not have the detail to give them any advice. We have been engaging with others on PEACE PLUS and other matters that are progressing, but there is insufficient detail on the shared prosperity fund, and there is not even certainty as to whether we will be administering any of the fund at all.

Photo of Jemma Dolan Jemma Dolan Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for his answers so far. Have the British Government guaranteed that CAP funding will be replaced in full?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

The main elements that cover farm support for 2021-22 have been largely replaced. We have been provided with £315·6 million, but there is no certainty or guarantees beyond that. Of course, we will need to continue to liaise with the Treasury on the position for future years.