More than £730 million in vital EU cash – which could help local communities bounce back from COVID-19 – risks going unspent and being sent back to Brussels if the funding is not allocated by the Government before the end of the year, the LGA has warned.
It said 24 per cent of England’s allocation of the European Social Fund remains unspent.
The LGA is calling on the Government to urgently work with councils and combined authorities to ensure the remaining money is allocated quickly to support the national recovery from the pandemic.
The fund, in which the UK is continuing to participate until the end of the programme, is used for supporting employment, skills and training.
With unemployment expected to rise and local businesses likely to struggle to get back on their feet, the LGA says investment in employment and skills will be more important than ever in the coming months and that it is vital that the remaining funding is used to respond quickly to support people and places where it is most needed.
Councils are also concerned about the ongoing lack of detail around the Government’s proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which will replace EU funding.
The LGA said councils and combined authorities want to work with the Government to co-design the UKSPF, based around local need and alignment towards a single pot of growth funding.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s EU Exit Taskforce, said: “As the country looks towards how we bounce back from COVID-19, this funding is more important than ever.
“This is vital money, which, as it stands, risks going unspent and returned to Brussels, when instead it can and should be invested in jobs, skills and training critical to the national recovery.”