Levelling up is down – Owl
Cristina Gallardo www.politico.eu
A post-Brexit British fund for regional development will fall £1 billion short of what the U.K. received from the EU, MPs warned.
The House of Commons Treasury committee said Thursday that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is worth just 60 percent of the EU structural funds it aims to replace.
The U.K. government has touted the long-awaited British scheme, due to launch in April, as a “centerpiece” of its so-called “Leveling Up” policy agenda, a looming regional development strategy.
The UKSPF is due to be worth £1.5 billion a year by 2024-25, but the committee said this falls short of the £2.5 billion a year the U.K. received in EU structural cash before Brexit.
“If the new fund is intended to be one of ‘the centerpieces’ of the government’s ambition, it is surprising that the size of the fund is being reduced to such an extent,” the committee wrote in a report. “The government will need to demonstrate how these reduced funds will achieve their defined metrics for leveling up.”
Elsewhere, the committee noted that “leveling up” was mentioned 91 times in the U.K. budget and spending review documents, but said the government should clarify how this policy goal will be measured and attained.
“Rebadging existing programs may not have the impact the government is seeking,” the report warned.
A spokesperson for the Treasury said the government has “an ambitious domestic agenda to boost investment to improve people’s everyday lives,” which includes the UKSPF.
“The upcoming Leveling Up White Paper will set out the next steps in how the huge investment set out in the Spending Review will deliver on this central mission,” the spokesperson said.