Labour government would ‘guarantee regional development spending’

27 Sep 16

A Labour government would guarantee regional development scheme spending levels in line with European structural fund allocations over the next decade, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has said.

Emily Thornberry at Labour conference 2016

Emily Thornberry at Labour conference 2016 Photo: PA

In the current European Union funding period, the UK has been allocated €10.8bn in structural funds, which is used in regeneration projects.

Following the Brexit vote, chancellor Philip Hammond said government would guarantee European structural and investment funding for projects signed off before the Autumn Statement, but projects using EU funds after this date will need Treasury approval.

Thornberry told the Labour party conference in Liverpool this meant the government would look to “wield the axe” after Brexit.

She pledged that Labour would demand investment was protected.

“The Tories have given an undertaking hedged in conditions that funding up to 2020 will be protected. For the period after, they have said nothing. That is not good enough,” she stated.

Without long-term certainty, deprived regions and communities are unable to plan ahead, according to Thornberry.

“So thanks to John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, we can guarantee that a future Labour government will make up any shortfall in structural funding into the 2020s and beyond. And the same will go for the funding of peace and reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland.”

This would ensure communities that could stand to lose out most from leaving the EU would be looked after first, she added.

In his conference speech, McDonnell also called for Britain to retain its stake in the European Investment Bank, which provides loans to investment projects that contribute to EU policy objectives, after Brexit.

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