Hammond guarantees £4.5bn EU funding for farmers and scientists until 2020

 
Jake Cordell
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Philip Hammond has just made his first - £4.5bn a year - spending pledge
Philip Hammond has just made his first - £4.5bn a year - spending pledge (Source: Getty)

Chancellor Philip Hammond has today pledged to match EU funding for British firms in the first guarantee of its kind since the UK voted to leave the bloc in June's historic referendum.

Hammond has agreed that all UK projects that win funds under the various EU development programmes will be "fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the departure from the EU."

Payouts to farmers under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will also continue until at least 2020, the Chancellor confirmed. However, the head of the Local Government Association (LGA), whose members distribute a large chunk of the funds, said the guarantees did not go far enough.

Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA said: "The continued uncertainty risks damaging local regeneration plans and stalling flagship infrastructure projects, employment and skills schemes and local growth."

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The UK receives around £4.5bn in assistance every year from the EU's structural funds, with many projects lasting a number of years. Since the vote, firms have been frantically writing to the government to ask whether they would still receive cash after the UK left the EU and whether they should continue to bid for projects.

Last month the Treasury instructed a number of government departments to freeze new payouts, including to a scheme designed to promote London's startups, while it worked out whether it could afford to fill any potential post-Brexit black hole.

To be eligible for the government's guarantee, projects will have to be signed before the Autumn Statement - the date of which is still unknown. Universities will also have all funding provided under projects such as Horizon 2020 underwritten by the UK government, even if the project extends beyond the UK's departure date - again, still unknown.

The Office for National Statistics' (ONS) preferred measure of how much the UK "contributes" to the EU is £9.9bn a year, including £4.8bn in payments from EU institutions for UK-based projects.

Philip Hammond said: "I am confirming that structural and investment projects signed before the Autumn Statement and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave.

"We are determined to ensure that people have stability and certainty in the period leading up to our departure from the EU and that we use the opportunities that departure presents to determine our own priorities."

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Hammond refused to be drawn on whether the funding streams for farmers and other projects would be replaced by a domestic equivalent after the UK has formally left.

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