AQW 4187/22-27 – Replacement for the European Social Fund

Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Finance what urgent measures are being taken to establish funding to replace the loss of the European Social Fund Programme. [Priority Written]

Minister of Finance: The British Governments centralised approach to the replacement of EU Funds has crystallised a significant loss of spending power for the Executive.

The SPF (Shared Prosperity Fund) has been introduced by the British Government as a replacement for the European Social Fund (ESF). However, this fund raises significant concerns; it has not been subjected to screening under our equalities legislation, it will operate directly from Whitehall bypassing Executive Departments, it will deliver too little money, it risks duplication of provision and it lacks alignment to our local priorities.

I remain committed to securing as much funding for here as possible, and will not stand in the way of any funds flowing to the North. I will continue to press this issue with the British Government and my officials will continue to engage with their Whitehall counterparts with the aim of finding a solution which affords our Executive Departments an appropriate role.

Unfortunately the absence of the Executive has limited my ability to take action in relation to this unacceptable and underfunded approach by the British Government.