Following the collection of evidence, the Welsh Affairs Committee’s ‘Wales and the Shared Prosperity Fund’ inquiry has now been published.
Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, it will no longer qualify for European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, which fund schemes in Wales like the Active Inclusion Fund, Social Business Growth Fund and Community and Asset Development Fund at WCVA.
This report looks into what ESI funding has achieved in Wales, as well as what the proposed replacement, the Shared Prosperity Fund, could accomplish in its place.
To summarise, the report finds:
- A disappointing lack of detail on replacement funding provided by UK Government.
- It also calls for UK Government to ‘urgently offer reassurance and provide a firm date for when substantive information about the shape of the Shared Prosperity Fund will be made available.’
- Despite positive feedback, it is clear that for many the current system of structural funding has been too centralised and overly bureaucratic. The development of the Shared Prosperity Fund represents an opportunity to implement a simpler administrative system.
- While it is unclear at present whether new funds will be managed centrally by Whitehall or not, UK Government would do well not to lose the expertise built up in Wales by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO)
- It also asks that UK Government should ‘guarantee the principles of genuine joint working and partnership between all stakeholders, including the UK and Welsh Governments, local government and the third sector.’
- Lastly, it proposes that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic ‘makes this an exceptional time, and opportunity, for the governments of the UK to design a more responsive and adaptable system of structural and regional funding.’
Full details of the report can be found online at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmwelaf/90/9002.htm