Brexit risk to Wigan Council coffers

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

Local authorities like Wigan’s risk losing out on more than £5bn if the Government fails to replace EU funding arrangements post-Brexit, council chiefs warn.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged ministers to outline how they will replicate the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) when it ends in December 2020.

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The LGA said ESIF funding provides a “lifeline” for local authorities to make key investments, and warned that uncertainty over domestic replacement the UK Shared Prosperity Fund was a “huge concern” for councils who could face a £5.3bn funding gap.

Wigan Council leader David Molyneux said: “We are working to understand the impact of Brexit, particularly looking at how it will impact on our economy and funding.

“Our economy team is supporting local businesses, in partnership with the Manchester Growth Company, to help them understand the implications of, and prepare for Brexit.

“Our work to develop a new economic vision and strategy reflects the council’s commitment to creating a compelling offer for businesses and a resilient economy that can cope with external factors beyond our control such as Brexit or shifts in the global economy.

“Ultimately, with the current level of uncertainty, no organisation can say with confidence what the impact will be nationally or locally.”

Ministers announced plans 12 months ago to consult on the design of the Shared Prosperity Fund by the end of 2018, but have yet to do so, the LGA said.

Brexit taskforce chairman Coun Kevin Bentley said: “The clock is ticking for the Government to set out a firm plan to replace this funding into the next decade and beyond.

“Brexit cannot leave local areas facing huge financial uncertainty as a result of lost regional aid funding.

“This funding has been used to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills training, and invest in critical transport and digital infrastructure and boost inclusive growth.”