WQ88110 (e) Tabled on 03/05/2023

Further to WQ87239, and the recent statement on shared prosperity and levelling up, what further assessment has been made as to the number of jobs that will be lost and community employability programmes that will have to close as EU structural funds come to an end?

Answered by Minister for Economy | Answered on 16/05/2023

With £1.1bn less funding compared to EU Structural and rural funds available between 2021 and 2025, significant job losses and project closures are the inevitable consequence of the UK Government not honouring its commitment to fully replace these EU Structural and Investment funds through its Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).

This has been compounded by the design of the SPF, which prevents long-term strategic projects and makes no funding available for previously eligible areas, such as R&D. Additionally, delays in the implementation of the fund will result in only around 18 months of delivery before the scheme winds down at the end of next year.

The full impact on job losses and provision of services will only be known following the conclusion of the SPF when it is incumbent on the UK Government and local authorities to publish data on the outcomes of the fund. This can then be evaluated against the performance of the 2014-2020 EU Structural Fund programmes, which have created some 34,000 jobs and 6,600 new businesses, assisting a further 20,000 businesses and helping more than 40,000 unemployed people into work.

While the SPF has only got off the ground in recent months, it is clear that universities and R&D are being badly affected. Universities Wales has stated that 1,000 skilled jobs are facing redundancy due to the imminent closure of around 60 EU-funded R&D and skills projects. This will also impact Welsh businesses due to the reduced opportunities for collaborative R&D and higher-level industry skills provision.

The Active Inclusion Fund, managed by WCVA, supported more than 150 third sector organisations across Wales to deliver community employability programmes, which have helped 23,000 vulnerable people back into work or training. The fund is now winding up and there is no opportunity for replacement provision at this scale through the SPF.

The Welsh Government will continue to hold the UK Government to account for the broken funding promises, its attack on our devolution settlement and poorly designed schemes which are costing Wales jobs and growth.