The first stage of legal action has been launched against the Government over its European funding allocation to Liverpool City Region.
The Liverpool City Region area – comprising Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, Halton and St Helens – faces a cut of 60 percent during 2014-2020 compared to the previous programme which ran from 2007-2013.
Liverpool City Region will get less funding per head of population than the rest of the north west, despite having a lower GDP than Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, Lancashire and Cumbria.
A pre-application letter – the first stage of a judicial review – is being prepared as part of joint action with Sheffield City Region.
Over the next seven years, Liverpool City Region will get 222 million euros, or around £185 million. This works out at 147 euros (£128) per head of population, compared to 380 euros (£325) per person in the previous funding round.
Although the money comes from the European Union, the decision on allocations in the UK is devolved to the UK Government.
Liverpool City Region understands that the allocation made by UK Government is 100 million euros less than it would have received under the funding formula used by the European Commission.
Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Paul Brant, said: “It is regrettable that we have had to take this action, but we are left with no option.
“It is clear that despite months of lobbying both before and after the announcement, the Government is burying its head in the sand and hoping we will simply go away.
“It is vitally important we send out a clear message about the unfairness and injustice over the allocation and let them know we are not prepared to accept it without a fight.
“It feels like the formula has been gerrymandered, and we have been advised we have good grounds for a legal challenge.
“The Government have patently ignored the EU funding formula, and we are now in the bizarre and baffling situation where areas better off than ours will receive more funding per head of population. It simply cannot be fair that Cheshire* gets more when the figures show it is already far wealthier than Liverpool.
“It flies in the face of the whole purpose of European funding, and can only serve to widen the gap between our area and other parts of not just England, but also the north west.”
The funding announcement follows the Government’s decision to take £650 million of European Union funding – which the European Commission had awarded to England for 2014 – 2020 – and reallocate it to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It includes an estimated £350 million which the European Commission had ring-fenced for poorer areas (known as transition regions) such as Liverpool City Region.
Liverpool and Sheffield had argued that a safety net should be applied to the new funding allocations to limit the reduction. This is the rationale the Government used to transfer the money to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.