Posted: Wed 13th Jul 2022

Frustration as Flintshire receives lowest share of EU replacement fund in North Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jul 13th, 2022

Senior councillors have expressed their frustration after Flintshire was allocated the lowest share of money to replace EU funding in North Wales.

The UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund has been set up in the wake of Brexit to take the place of EU structural funds to help deprived areas.

Details have been published of how much each of the six local authority areas in the region will receive over the next three years, with the area collectively allocated £126m.

However, the figures show Flintshire will get little over half of the £21.2m being given to Denbighshire, which stands to be the largest beneficiary of the fund.

The county’s share of £10.8m compares to almost £20.3m for Conwy, £20.2m for Gwynedd, nearly £18.8m for neighbouring Wrexham and around £13.3m for Anglesey.

Members of Flintshire Council’s ruling Labour cabinet have hit out at the Westminster government over the relatively low sum.

Speaking at a meeting held yesterday (Tuesday, July 12), David Healey, portfolio holder for climate change and economy, said: “Overall, across the UK the fund promises £2.5bn over a period of three years with an end date of 2025.

“North Wales is to benefit from this by £126m, but here in Flintshire I think we can raise an eyebrow at the relatively small amount that we are expected to receive in relation to some of the other local authorities of £10.8m
“We are sadly, using the UK Government’s criteria, 20th out of 22 authorities in Wales in terms of what’s been allocated.

“If anybody was expecting a better deal from the UK Government than we get from the Welsh Government, then we certainly haven’t, and it is disappointing.

“That means that we do have to utter words of caution, that over the three years, it’s actually not going to go all that far.”

Wales will receive almost a quarter of the total fund, which is aimed at investing in projects focused around three main themes.

Local authorities will be expected to put money into schemes centred on communities and place, support for local businesses and people and skills.

The UK Government has set a 16-week timescale for regions to create and submit an investment strategy.

The deadline is August 1, 2022 with the delivery of the projects expected to start in September.

Andrew Farrow, Flintshire’s chief officer for the economy, said: “This is UK Government money which effectively replaces EU money, and we never did very well out of EU funding either.

“That might explain the low contribution that we’ve got here.

“It’s also important to note that the allocation within the report is exactly that – it’s an allocation.

“This isn’t competitive bidding that we were involved in, unlike Levelling Up funding, so it’s a question of how we’re going to spend that allocation.”

Cllr Sean Bibby, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, also voiced his frustration at the level of funding allocated.

He compared the amount for Flintshire to that earmarked for neighbouring Wrexham.

He said: “Wrexham, which has a very similar economic and demographic profile as us, wasn’t in an objective one area previously.

“Totting up the figures from the core funding and dividing it by the population estimates that we just had from the census release, Flintshire is roughly £70 per head and Wrexham is around £140 per head.

“It’s roughly double per head which Wrexham is receiving compared to Flintshire.

“I think that’s quite an interesting stat and one that definitely raises some eyebrows.”

Cabinet members approved proposals to push forward with Flintshire’s strategy for the money at the end of the debate.

They also decided to send a letter to the UK Government outlining their concerns over the council’s low funding allocation.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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