UK Shared Prosperity Fund must replace lost EU rural funding – MLA

The chair of the Rural Affairs committee Declan Mc Aleer, pictured, has said that urgent progress must be made on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace EU funding that will be lost due to Brexit.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 8:21 am

Mr Mc Aleer said: “As a representative of a rural area I see at first hand the beneficial impact that programmes like the EU Rural Development Programme (RDP) has had in local communities. The RDP has funded the creation of small businesses and the development of vital community hubs, social economies, recreation facilities, village renewal and much more.

“Social and economic projects were funded out of ‘Priority 6’, formerly Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme but this is coming to an end with Brexit looming at the end of this year, leaving many rural groups anxious about the future.

“Given that DAERA is currently engaged in developing a new Rural Business & Community Investment Programme which will effectively succeed the previous programme I have raised the issue of funding with the minister.

“In particular, I have pressed for a slice of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to be ring fenced for this purpose. In recent correspondence from Minister Poots I have learned that the Shared Prosperity Fund which is being led by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in Whitehall has been delayed.

“The Department of Finance are taking the lead on this on behalf of the Executive and the Minister Conor Murphy has recently written to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. I have requested an update from DoF on this.”

Mr McAleer concluded: “The EU Rural Development Programme has been the mainstay of rural groups and without this support, communities would struggle to grow and prosper. It was not our choice to leave the EU so there is a responsibility on the British government to replace these lost funds.”