DELAYS and uncertainties over replacement programmes for EU funded schemes are putting job opportunities in Wales at risk, the economy minister has said. 

Vaughan Gething attacked the Westminster government’s handling of its programmes intended to support economic growth and regeneration in the Senedd. 

He also said Wales is losing out on many millions of pounds it would have received from the European Union that haven’t been matched under the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund, which is a pilot to its Shared Prosperity Fund, and the UK Levelling Up Fund. 

The Labour government has been at loggerheads with its Conservative counterpart in Westminster over the replacement for EU funding. While Britain was in the European Union money to be spent in Wales was controlled by the Welsh Government but is now dished out by Whitehall, which the Welsh Government, and Plaid Cymru, have called a power grab

Mr Gething told the Senedd: “Only six months remain of this financial year and the UK Government has still not announced any successful bids for the Community Renewal and Levelling Up funds. This is despite the promises made to announce bids in July.  

“Partners are right to ask how projects are supposed to deliver by March as required. This is a delay that leaves communities in the dark and badly compromises what can be achieved for people and businesses in Wales.” 

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The minister said the delays also pose a threat to bodies and schemes established in Wales: “We also have real concerns about the threat of UK Government plans on the future scale of EU-funded schemes including Business Wales, the Development Bank and Apprenticeships.” 

He complained the Welsh Government hasn’t been involved in the way it would like to be discussions over the funding and how councils must compete for cash. 

The Senedd was told the Community Renewal Fund, is worth £220 million across the UK in this financial year, with Wales expected to receive around £10m, which works out at around £450,000 per local authority. 

Had the UK remained in the EU, Wales would have had new EU Structural funding averaging at least £375 million each year for seven years from January 2021 which would have be on top of funding from the current EU programmes. 

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The UK-wide £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund has set aside a total of £800 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over four years, with Wales expected to receive around £30 million this year. That’s around £1.3m per local authority in Wales. 

Mr Gething said: “It is clear that these UK funds amount to a levelling down for Wales.” 

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Responding, in the Senedd, Paul Davies for the Welsh Conservatives said he shared concerns at a lack of progress and said the Welsh Government could encourage the use of expertise that has been developed in Wales in delivering EU funds, and said it should “engage on this agenda, rather than spending time and effort politically point scoring.” 

Mr Davies also said: “The UK Government has made it very clear that Wales will not lose out via the shared prosperity fund, and the profile of spending will be set out in the next UK spending review, which is expected this autumn. 

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