English regions lose out on EU funding
Posted: 8th August 2014
Two English regions who complained that they got a raw deal when it came to dividing up more than Euros 6 billion of European hardship funding have failed to convince the Court of Appeal that they are entitled to a bigger slice of the EU cake.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills dropped a bombshell in March 2013 when he announced that EU structural funds paid to nine councils in South Yorkshire and Merseyside to prevent the regions 'lagging behind' the rest of the country would be slashed by 65 per cent over the next seven years.
The councils argued that authorities in Northern Ireland and the highlands and islands of Scotland were being unfairly favoured and protected against funding cuts and that the methodology employed by the Secretary of State was irrational, taking no account of the 'actual economic needs' of South Yorkshire and Merseyside. The effect on the regions as they struggled to rebuild their future and cope with industrial decline was 'discriminatory and disproportionate'.
Despite accepting that the Secretary of State had failed in certain respects to comply with the public sector equality duty enshrined in the Equality Act 2010, a judge had rejected other grounds put forward by the councils and dismissed their judicial review challenge.
In dismissing the councils’ appeal, the Court emphasised that the Secretary of State enjoyed a 'wide margin of discretion' when comparing the needs of one region with another. He had allocated the EU funds 'in a careful and systematic way' and had given 'particular consideration' to the position of South Yorkshire and Merseyside.