Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has accused the Tory Government of “more broken promises” to the people of Teesside after it emerged that the region is set to lose £750 million worth of funding over seven years – despite promises that EU money the region lost as a result of Brexit would be matched “pound for pound”.
The “Shared Prosperity Fund” was announcement by the Government to tackle “inequality and deprivation” in areas like Teesside that benefitted from EU investment. In the 2019 General Election the Conservative Party made a manifesto commitment to ensure that the SPF would match the amount of money, pound for pound, that the UK would have received from the EU Structural Funds as an EU member state.
The Chancellor recently declared that Cornwall, one of the four areas of the UK that previously benefitted from EU investment, would receive “no less” from the UK SPF than it would EU. Questions have been asked where that leaves the other three – Tees Valley included – and why Cornwall was ringfenced. The North East will receive £7.7 million over the seven-year period compared to Devon’s £11.3 million. The entire SPF budget is £2.6 billion, not the £4.5 billion required to deliver the promised matched funding.
“People on Teesside were told that their communities wouldn’t suffer as a result of Brexit and that the Tories would make EU investment was matched. Now we have the complete opposite, and our area is set to lose £750 million over the next seven years – with only Cornwall being guaranteed ringfenced funding. I’ve no objections to Cornwall getting the money it is due, but I would like to know why the Levelling Up Secretary feels that other areas like the Tees Valley don’t deserve the same treatment.
“Whether it’s delivering HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail, promises that no one would have to sell their home to pay for social care, or pledges to replace every pound the Tees Valley lost as a result of Brexit, it’s clear that Tory election promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.”