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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 2:30 pm, 26th June 2019

I will mention the 22% increase specifically as I proceed.

I am delighted that Members from across the regions that would have benefited are in the Chamber. Everybody will want to focus on the impact in their own areas but, as the Minister indicated, the projections indicate that the UK would be entitled to an increase of 22% in funding. I am sure that if we were a participating member, we would be arguing strongly to ensure that that assessment was matched in reality and that the funding came through.

The funding estimate is up from the €l0.6 billion that we received from 2014 to 2020 to approximately €13 billion. Part of the reason that the CPMR estimates that increase is that we would now have five less developed regions, compared with two during the current funding period. The analysis states:

“All five of these regions would stand to receive EU support in excess of 500 euros per capita for the seven-year period.”

On current figures, that would result in £605 million for South Yorkshire to support economic growth.

There is a sense of déjà vu, because South Yorkshire has been here before. When the Thatcher Government decimated our coal and steel industries, and our whole economic base with them, we became one of the poorest regions in Europe. The EU stepped in with funding that was critical to rebuilding our economy, funding projects decided by local politicians and delivered by local bodies.

We received £820 million of objective 1 funding—levering in matched funding—which was channelled into more than 250 organisations and 650 projects. That encouraged investment, stimulated the development of new growth and high-technology sectors, helped businesses to modernise and become more competitive, supported innovation, helped with the commercialisation of research, developed skills and provided infrastructure in the region. We saw real transformation in a variety of ways.