Saturday, 13 August 2016

Brexit: and guaranteeing funding: 'stability and certainty'

Concern has been voiced from many sectors about funding post-Brexit:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and rural development grants on hold
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter University
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the potential loss of £5.3bn of funding for infrastructure and regeneration projects across England

The British government has now gone some way to assuage these fears - although how far is open to debate:
Funding pledge for eu-backed projects 'will not end post-brexit uncertainty' | Daily Mail Online

Brexit: Government guarantee for post-EU funds

50 minutes ago From the section UK Politics

EU funding for farmers, scientists and other projects will be replaced by the Treasury after Brexit, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said.

In a move which could cost up to £4.5bn a year, the Treasury will guarantee to back EU-funded projects signed before this year's Autumn Statement. Agricultural funding now provided by the EU will also continue until 2020.

The UK has not yet triggered the negotiation process for leaving the EU, following the referendum vote in June. Voters backed leaving the EU in the 23 June referendum but Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated the UK government will not trigger Article 50, which would begin a two-year process to leave, during 2016.

Mr Hammond said that EU structural and investment fund projects that are signed before the Autumn Statement later this year, and Horizon research funding granted before leaving the EU, will be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK leaves.

'Stability and certainty'

"What we are doing here is guaranteeing that projects that have already been signed or that are going to be signed over the coming months, even if the payment of those funds runs on beyond the time we leave the EU, will be guaranteed by the British government to the recipient," Mr Hammond said.

"The government will also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020, providing certainty to our agricultural community, which play a vital role in our country. We are determined to ensure that people have stability and certainty in the period leading up to our departure from the EU and that we use the opportunities that departure presents to determine our own priorities."

The Treasury said it would also assess whether to guarantee funding for certain other projects "that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU".

Organisations such as universities bidding for EU funding before the UK leaves would have that money underwritten by the government. The EU's 80bn euro (£69bn) Horizon 2020 programme awards funding for research and innovation and is open to UK institutions while the country remains a member.

At present, farmers receive subsidies and other payments under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). They get about £3bn a year in subsidies, with the biggest farmers pocketing cheques of £1m. The grants are given for owning land and also taking care of wildlife.

The structural and investment funds that will be guaranteed include CAP pillar two, the European Social Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, including European Territorial Cooperation.

Examples of projects that have received or are due to receive regional development fund money include:
> £5m for the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester
> £9m for the manufacturing growth programme to support areas in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and the East of England.
> £3m for a new life sciences incubation and innovation centre at Porton Down in Wiltshire.

'Welcome news'

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the Treasury's announcement was "positive" for farming. Its president Meurig Raymond said: "I hope that this short-term certainty will help to deliver longer-term confidence and this is exactly what farm businesses need now."

President of the Royal Society and Nobel laureate, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was "welcome news" for scientists. He said the announcement had been something "we have been arguing consistently for" since the referendum result, "because it removes the uncertainty during this transition period" of EU negotiations.

"This measure's so welcome because we've been hearing anecdotal reports of people not being willing to collaborate with certain UK collaborators because they weren't sure that they'd be able to stay for the full duration of the grant," he said. "Any funding that we receive now will essentially be underwritten by the UK government, so even if we leave the EU completely after two years... the UK then will underwrite so that scientists who are awarded grants will be allowed to finish them."

The UK currently pays money into the EU budget, which will stop once it formally leaves. In 2015 the UK government paid in £13bn and EU spending on the UK was £4.5bn, meaning the UK's net contribution was estimated at about £8.5bn, or £161m a week.

Last month the chancellor said he might use the Autumn Statement to Parliament to "reset" Britain's economic policy.

The comments saw shadow chancellor John McDonnell respond: "This means that Britain is on hold until Philip Hammond makes up his mind. The Tories clearly had no plan for Brexit and are making it up as they go along."

Brexit: Government guarantee for post-EU funds - BBC News

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