Response to Consultation: A Modern Regional Policy for the United Kingdom
The North West Development Agency organised a consultation event in June 2003, in conjunction with Government Office North West and the Regional Assembly. The event was well attended with representatives from all sectors across the region. A North West response to the consultation document was collated and submitted to the Government in time for the 4 July deadline. Opinions on the document were mixed, with concern arising from the proposal to change the way in which the UK contributes to Structural Fund Programmes and funding being sidelined into Government priorities.
Where we are at the moment in the region:
Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Lancashire
Approximately £3.8 billion will be left to administer to the rest of the UK in the Competitiveness Objective. On a rough calculation based on each head of population receiving an equal amount regardless of the region where they live, the rest of the North West would receive approximately £200–£250 million.
However, this broad way of calculating does not meet the objectives of the Structural Fundsi which is to support less-favoured regions in their development and support the Lisbon ‘Jobs and Growth’ Strategy. Therefore the North West as one the most deprived regions in England and currently the highest recipient of Objective Two, would be looking for at least £400 million.
The major question remains therefore how will the Government provide the allocation from the Competitiveness fund to each region - will it be at regional, sub-regional or another NUTS level?
Additional support for Cumbria
Cumbria failed to be recognised as a ‘special case’ in view of it being a ‘declining’ region. Cumbria was also hit due to the anomalies caused by the inclusion of extra-regio GDP in the NUTS II GDP figures for calculating (sub) regions in need of extra support. If this were not the case, and if Cumbria had qualified for ‘phasing in’ status, this would mean an additional £143 million.
The North West region had previously argued for a special fund for Cumbria and may now seek consideration from the Government for some allocated assistance either as increased central funding or as a top-slice from the Competitiveness objective at the national level. Any such funds would be aligned to the draft RES transformational actions for Cumbria.
Initial guidance indicates that Merseyside will receive phasing-in competitiveness funding averaging approximately one-third of the intervention rates for the UK's future full convergence regions. Roughly translated, this means that Merseyside will receive approximately £328 million.
Implications for the North West
In the programming period of 2000 - 2006, the North West of England has been the largest recipient of EUi Structural Funds in the UK, with over £900 million in the Merseyside Objective One programme and over £500 million for the Objective Two programme.
Despite the progress made and the many opportunities in the North West for future growth, the GVA per head is still 12% lower than the England average, resulting in a £13 billion output gap (source: RES).
The North West has developed strong, inclusive governance structures and experienced partnerships that have ensured that the Structural Funds programmes are delivered effectively and have provided a high level of transparency and accountability. Ensuring that this experience and level of involvement is developed as a framework for future programmes will be critical to success.
European Structural Funds in Greater Manchester (GMResearch)
Briefing note from GMResearch which considers the impact of EU enlargement on Greater Manchester’s and the region’s share of European regional funding. GM Research Briefing Notes