Press release

Communities in Charge Campaign warns of economic inequality

Co-operatives UK is joining a coalition of local groups and national organisations to call for communities to be put in charge of the Shared Prosperity Fund which is replacing EU funding. 

A lack of detail about the post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund is fuelling anxieties that it will follow existing spending patterns which favour richer areas. The Communities in Charge campaign is warning that London and the South East could receive billions in extra public funds after Brexit while poorer regions could lose out if new funding is not targeted and managed to tackle inequality and support communities.  The risk is highlighted in new analysis of government spending statistics conducted by the Communities in Charge campaign.

The Government has previously announced plans to replace EU funding with a Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF). But with no detail available on the SPF, with a long-promised consultation continually being delayed, and with a contest now taking place to decide a new Prime Minister, uncertainty is mounting. Post-Brexit funding for economic development could follow the regional pattern of existing UK programmes and end up increasing regional inequalities rather than reducing them.

The analysis published in the report Communities in Charge give people the power to prosper after Brexit, finds:

  • Seven UK nations/regions are at risk of losing out on public funding if government continues on its default setting for economic development spending
  • Wales could miss out on over £2.3bn over six years, and the South West risks losing over £1bn
  • London and the South East are the biggest potential winners if default spending patterns are followed, in line for an extra £1.9bn and £1.2bn in public expenditure respectively between 2021 and 2027

The government has claimed that the SPF will be designed to reduce inequalities between communities. But the long delay in publishing the much promised consultation on the SPF is creating high levels of uncertainty about the true nature of the fund. Many therefore fear the fund will be shaped by the orthodox view that the best way to support struggling people and places is continued investment in the highest-growth, highest-productivity areas.

The report marks the launch of the Communities in Charge campaign, a coalition of local people, community groups and national organisations calling for communities to be put directly in charge of the Shared Prosperity Fund and targeted where there is need, not to back already prosperous areas.

The campaign is calling for:

  • Resources to be made available to the people and places which need it most
  • Local people to scrutinise all spending decisions through a dramatic increase in accountability, including citizen panels
  • At least a quarter of the fund to go directly to local people to invest in their own priorities for the economy

​The Communities in Charge campaign will be discussed at Co-op Congress on Sat 22 June. Book your place and have your say!