MP calls on government to make funding available to create jobs in the city

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton

Parliamentary candidates grilled by students at Portsmouth College debate

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PORTSMOUTH Euro MP Peter Skinner is calling on the government to sort out issues surrounding EU funds for regional growth, which he claims is putting £10m for the South East at risk.

The unallocated funds are part of the European Regional Development Fund, which exists to boost growth and jobs regionally, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

The government has yet to put in place a mechanism for allocating the funds, following the hasty and chaotic abolition of the Regional Development Agencies which used to manage the process.

European Commissioners have raised real concerns that the funding could be jeopardised as a result.

If this does not take place in time, two thirds will be lost from the region and automatically revert to the Treasury’s coffers.

According to the most recent government figures, £1,160m, that’s 41 per cent, of ERDF funding for England is still unallocated.

Last month, Conservative Minister Mark Prisk felt compelled to write to local decision makers urging them to look at national matched funding opportunities given the slow progress on allocating the funds in the past year and the RDA abolition which in his own words has ‘provided an additional challenge to your work.’

MEP Peter Skinner said: ‘As families struggle to pay the bills and businesses fight to keep their doors open it’s shocking that £10m of regeneration funding is simply lying about unused.

‘That cash could be put to good use in Portsmouth to provide jobs and new opportunities. This needs to be sorted out but at the moment there is a lack of urgency which is totally out of touch with the needs of businesses in Portsmouth.’

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