London’s boroughs fear their capacity to improve skills and employment levels and nourish economic growth will be reduced due to uncertainty around government plans for replacing money currently provided by the European Union after Brexit.
London Councils, the cross-party body that represents the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, says details about national government plans for making up for this financial loss from a national fund are unclear and that a consultation about them has been postponed.
A total of £580 million has been allotted to London by the EU for the 2014-2020 period, the bulk of it to help pay for apprenticeships and training programmes in the capital. A UK shared prosperity fund (UKSPF) has been set up to fill gaps left by the termination of such EU financial support nationally should Brexit go ahead, but London Councils are concerned about how it will be shared out.
The organisation has pledged to try to ensure that any post-Brexit funding from the government is at least as high as the EU currently provides and that control over its use is devolved to London government in order to maximise its benefits.
Clare Coghill, London Councils’ executive member for business, Europe and good growth, described the uncertainty around the UKSPF as “worrying” and, though promising that boroughs will continue to support local communities during the Brexit period, stressed that “our resources are limited as we have sustained heavy funding reductions over the past decade”.
Last autumn, London councils chair, Peter John, warned that the capital’s local authorities face mounting funding pressures due to a collective “63 per cent real terms reduction to core funding per capita” since 2010 at the same time as having to serve an additional 500,000 people because of population growth.
London Councils’ has made a set of pledges to Londoners, which include highlighting the role of all cities in funding UK public services and London’s contribution of £32.5 billion in taxes to rest of the the country, and supporting business and “inclusive growth“. The government is currently conducting that it calls a “fair funding review” of how it allocates funs to local authorities across England.