Ahead of a debate in the National Assembly on the ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ Rebecca Evans yesterday said:
The UK government’s chaotic handling of Brexit extends to decisions on how the vital £370 million a year of EU structural and investment funds in Wales will be replaced.
These funds have supported the creation of 48,000 new jobs and 13,000 new businesses in Wales and have assisted 25,000 businesses and supported 86,000 people into employment. EU funds have improved broadband coverage, built research capacity, invested in renewable energy, and developed vital infrastructure for transport, tourism and businesses.
Two years ago, the UK government floated the idea that these funds could be replaced with a ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’, but we are yet to receive any detail about how this will work. We have been consistently clear that we will not accept any proposals which seek to bypass the devolution settlement or take back decisions and funding which has been under Wales’ control for nearly 20 years. Wales must not lose a penny because of Brexit.
We have published detailed proposals for how regional investment could work after the UK leaves the EU and we are working closely with local government, businesses and communities across Wales to put in place successor arrangements. We will use replacement funding to invest in regional economic development and reduce inequality, and we are working with the OECD to help inform our future approach.
I call on the UK government to urgently confirm funding and autonomy for the Welsh Government in future arrangements so that the future of our people, businesses, and communities in Wales are not put at risk.