Thursday, January 19, 2017

Labour financial incompetence causes double whammy for Cumbria

Most of a £15 million EU grant for flood defences, from which Cumbria would have benefitted, will have to be handed back because of Labour incompetence.

The EU Commission had proposed to give Britain 60 million Euros from the EU solidarity fund to help with flood damage and repairs as a result of storms in winter 2015/16 such as Storm Desmond. Some of this money would have come to Cumbria

After allowing for the costs of submitting the application and the clawback as a result of the British rebate, it is estimated that the net value of this to Britain will have been about £15 million pounds.

Unfortunately in 2007, the then Labour government received money from the same fund but misspent it on projects for which it was not eligible, according to the EU. Consequently Britain has been fined £14.5 million by the EU so nearly all of the money will have to be paid back to cover the fine.

Andrew Percy, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: "Consequently, this funding does not offer additional support, but is only eligible to reimburse a small portion of the extensive financial support that has already been given‎ by the Government to the areas affected."

This news follows the incredible decision by Labour-led Cumbria County Council to hand back more than £100,000 of grants which could have been spent on helping community groups improve local transport.

The excuse given is that nobody had applied for the grants, but there are certainly community groups which would have put in applications had they known about them.

Labour incompetence at both national and county level has dealt Cumbria a double whammy. Copeland and the rest of Cumbria deserve better.


peterowan said...

The 2007 grant was, presumably, spent on flood projects. The recent grant was also intended for flood projects. Which administration is sending this money back to the EU? The Government could have chosen to pay the 'fine' (remember, this 'fine' represents money spent on flood projects) and keep the recent grant, but have chosen to offset one against the other.

Chris Whiteside said...

I discussed this with the floods minister while she was in Copeland yesterday - she was, indeed, in Keswick and Egremont which were two of the areas in the constituency most affected by flooding after Storm Desmond.

It's not actually a case of the government choosing to send the money back back, but that the EU Commission have deducted it from the money in the fund that would otherwise have been available to Britain.

However the present government is spending more on flood defences that the last Labour government did, with or without EU support, and is listening to the concerns of people like the flooding action groups in Keswick and the rest of Cumbria.