Councils prepared to lose cash after Brexit

By Dan Peters | 14 March 2017

Council negotiators have resigned themselves to taking a financial hit from Brexit as they continue talks with ministers, The MJ understands.

The Treasury has guaranteed that EU structural and investment projects that are signed before Brexit will continue to be funded ‘provided they represent good value for money and are in line with the UK’s strategic objectives’.

This includes £5.3bn EU structural funds allocated to local areas for the 2014 to 2020 programming period.

However, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), Derek McCallan, has admitted that council negotiators would not be asking the Government for the same amount of funding after Brexit.

Speaking after a meeting of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Brexit task and finish group in London last week, Mr McCallan said demanding that the funding should continue in full would not be the ‘basis of any rational negotiation’.

He added: ‘We need to concentrate on the funding that achieves the biggest net impact.

'We need to start preparing contingency plans.’

NILGA is also keen to maintain a link with the European Investment Bank (EIB) after Brexit and is expected to press the case in Brussels next week.

Mr McCallan said: ‘The EIB and other European-wide lenders are open to discussions, though there may be changes to the terms and they way they lend.’

LGA vice-president, Andrew Lewer, who has met communities secretary Sajid Javid to discuss the future of the EIB, said he understood the UK government was ‘not ruling out’ future participation in the bank.

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Whitehall Finance Local Government Association Northern Ireland EU Brexit Sajid Javid