Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, has led calls in Parliament for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to tackle the gap between the richest and poorest regions, supporting the most vulnerable people across the UK.
The new Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace the European funding and Local Growth Funding regions currently receive, could be worth at least £2.4 billion a year.
Leading the first national debate on the subject in Westminster Hall today, Mayor Jarvis laid out his commitment to ensuring South Yorkshire – and other regions like it – receive their fair share.
Research shows that, if the UK were to remain in the European Union, UK regions would have received 13 billion Euros over the seven years between 2021 and 2027 – 22% more funding than the current funding programme, which runs until 2020.
Here in South Yorkshire, there would have been an even greater increase in funding, from 117 Euros per head to more than 500 Euros per head.
Mayor Jarvis said: “Today was an opportunity for us to look at this issue through the eyes of our communities rather than through the prism of party politics.
“I am in a unique position as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region and also MP for Barnsley Central. I have seen first-hand what local areas can do when they come together to drive economic growth. But I’ve also seen how limited and constrained they are by the powers and resources available to them.
“Both European and Government funding often comes with limitations that inhibit creative thinking, making it virtually impossible to deliver the significant structural changes that we need.
“The UK Shared Prosperity Fund presents an opportunity to press the reset button and think about how we do things differently. This must be the start of our economic transformation, not the end.”
The debate comes at a crucial time as, from next year, the funding that is allocated to regions by the European Union will come to an end.
2021 also marks the end of the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which has contributed to transformative developments across the region including the Great Yorkshire Way in Doncaster, the Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield, University Centre Rotherham and The Glassworks in Barnsley.
Mayor Jarvis has laid out his four guiding principles on which he thinks the UK Shared Prosperity Fund should be based. These are:
- That the fund should be no less in real terms than both the EU and Local Growth Funding streams. There must be a guarantee by Government that regions will not be worse off in terms of funding beyond 2021 because of Brexit.
- There must be an open and transparent process in place that strikes a balance between areas of need and supporting those economies with the greatest potential to grow.
- The fund must be fully devolved to those areas who have in place robust governance models including Combined Authorities and Mayoralties. It must be up to local areas how best to invest it, be that be based on skills, infrastructure, employment support and education.
- And the funding must be stretched over multiple years, beyond the vagaries of Spending Reviews and Parliamentary cycles
Mayor Jarvis continued: “The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be a litmus test for this Government on its commitment to devolution. Change is afoot and there is growing recognition that the answers to these issues do not lie in Westminster or Whitehall.
“There are nine Metro Mayors across England all calling for greater freedoms and resources to help us do our jobs. The central question now is, do we have the courage and conviction to let go of powers and resources, tackle the scourge of regional inequalities and create a country that works for all.”