Region eyes global investment to replace EU funding after Brexit
Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 24 Jul 2017
Securing post-Brexit infrastructure funding could see the region's leaders looking beyond Whitehall for financial support.
Nearly £90m worth of European Union funding in a five-year programme had been agreed for the Humber area up to 2020 before last year's referendum vote.
The government has promised to guarantee funding for EU-backed projects contracted before Brexit.
Now the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is asking local organisations to get involved in work to understand the impact the loss of EU funding will have on the region and help make the case for the funding to be replaced.
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LEP chairman Lord Haskins said: "The guarantee for contracted projects in the current programme is welcome but there is a concern about what will happen beyond that.
"The government has said a new prosperity fund will be introduced but, so far, there is no indication it will match the sort of money we are currently getting from Europe.
"Long-term, I think we will have to start looking at other sources of funding for vital infrastructure work.
"We are already seeing Chinese investment in places like Liverpool and Manchester. That needs to happen here."
The current EU programme is providing support for business finance, innovation and growth, flood defence and environmental improvements as well as skills training aimed at helping people into work.
Half of the funding has been contracted for delivery with a third of projects already up and running.
Examples include a number of flood alleviation schemes around Hull, road improvements at Barnetby Top in North Lincolnshire and regeneration work in Grimsby town centre.
Figures published by the LEP estimate the £88m worth of European funds allocated to the region have attracted another £68m from other sources.
LEP chief executive Kishor Tailor said: "Brexit has created uncertainty for businesses but there will also be opportunities.
"Everyone is waiting to see what happens and how the negotiations progress.
"I think investment decisions are being put on hold by some companies until the bigger picture becomes clearer.
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"I don't blame them for that but the good thing is that the commitment to invest is there, it's just a question of when is the best time to do it."
The LEP has commissioned new research to examine at how EU structural funds have been used in the past as well as the lessons learned.
The results will be used as part of the case for the Humber to lobby for future funding from the UK government.
LEP board member Isobel Mills said: “European structural funds have made valuable investments in business, infrastructure and people around the Humber, but they are not without their difficulties.
"We want to hear about the good and the bad from people with first-hand experience, and their views on how the replacement funding should work.
"We will use this to seek to ensure the approach the Government takes works for the Humber.”
Interested individuals and organisations can complete a survey through the LEP’s website www.humberlep.org or contact the LEP directly