Lib Dem employment spokesman Phil Bennion MEP has welcomed news that EU funding to help local business in English regions will continue as the government announces a £6.17 billion pot for the 2014-2020 spending round.

PB RS EU funded print equipment IMG 7874The figure represents a 5% cut to the previous six year spending round for EU structural funds, broadly in line with the overall cut to the EU budget agreed by national governments last month.

A breakdown of how much each Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will receive is due to be announced shortly.

Phil Bennion MEP, who worked with Lord Heseltine on the steering group of the Greater Birmingham Project with leaders of the Birmingham and Solihull LEP, said it was 'good news' that substantial EU funding would still be available for budgets administered locally.

He said:

"Having agreed an overall cut in the EU budget it is not surprising to see a reduction in the next spending round but this still represents a substantial pot of money.

"Lib Dems in the European Parliament have fought to prioritise and protect EU funds that help business and growth for the UK and for the West Midlands region.

"They can make a real difference locally. I recently visited Richard Stilwell at Bridgnorth Print Services, who made two successful applications for grants from the Shropshire and Herefordshire Business Enterprise Grants Fund (an ERDF scheme) towards new printing equipment for their business expansion. It is great news that this kind of help can continue for business.

"In the last round from 2007 to 2013, funds including the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund helped create at least 50,000 jobs in the UK and assisted more than 20,000 business start-ups. They also contributed to more than 1,300 research projects.

"I welcome the government's commitment to giving Local Enterprise Partnerships in the regions real clout in creating new jobs and stimulating growth.

"It is important that funds are not just concentrated in Whitehall, or worse, fail to be spent through lack of good local projects."

ENDS

Note: The 2007-13, EU Structural Funds are estimated to so far have helped create more than 50,000 jobs in the UK, assisted the start up of more than 20,000 businesses and supported more than 1,300 research and technical development projects. Funds are used to support a wide variety of projects such as building skills for the unemployed, increasing the participation of women in science and engineering careers, and developing new healthcare technologies.

· The EU funds covered include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). These funds are the main European instruments for supporting local projects to increase jobs and growth. Funding for the European Territorial Cooperation objective and the Youth Employment Initiative will be subject to a separate process.
· ERDF focuses on regional development, economic change and enhanced competitiveness. The ESF focuses on training, access to employment and social inclusion.
· Final allocations will be subject to the agreement on the EU regulations and the ongoing negotiation of the 2014-20 EU Budget with the European Parliament. The European Commission will also need to agree the government's proposals.
· The total allocation for England is €6.174 billion, and a breakdown of allocations across Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas will be announced shortly.
· All figures are in 2011 prices.