The replacement for European Union structural funding following Brexit must more effectively target deprived areas, with communities given direct control over how the money is spent, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has said.
In a briefing published today, the think tank said a wider set of measures than per capita gross domestic product should be used to distribute the shared prosperity fund, which the government has said will replace the structural funding when the country leaves the EU. Other proposed factors include “environmental sustainability, physical and mental health, and social wellbeing”.
IPPR said while part of the new money will fund large-scale investments such as transport and infrastructure on the regional level, at least 20% should go to “priority areas at a neighbourhood level”.
Councils should also make sure the community has direct control over where the funds are distributed, the briefing said.
It added: “If these recommendations are followed then the shared prosperity fund could be a key instrument for tackling regional inequalities post-Brexit and empowering local communities to shape how funds are spent in their areas.”
The government is yet to confirm how the new funding will be distributed and when it will be available.
Responding to the report, Kevin Bentley (Con), chairman of the Local Government Association’s Brexit taskforce, said time is running out to put in place successor investment the works for communities and businesses.
He added: “Councils know their communities best and it is important that the shared prosperity fund gives local areas more power and control over how funding is allocated and spent.
“Without a clear timetable of action, there is a risk that billions of pounds of investment into our communities will be lost and local areas and economies will be denied desperately-needed funding.”