Supreme Court narrowly rejects European funding appeal

The Supreme Court has narrowly rejected an appeal brought by local authorities – including Liverpool – against the allocation of European funding from 2014 – 2020.

Lawyers for Liverpool City Region and Sheffield City Region brought a joint action arguing the reduction was disproportionate compared to other areas.

Within the Court proceedings the Government admitted that if they had treated all the English regions the same, then Merseyside would have got an additional €24 million. Even this falls far short of the original allocation from the EU, which was over €100 million higher for Merseyside.

By four votes to three, the seven Supreme Court Justices considered the decision was legal.

One Lord was initially minded to allow the appeal but subsequently changed his mind – and described the Secretary of State’s decision as lawful but “unimpressive”.

Another, Lord Carnworth, who recommended that the Appeal should be allowed, described the Government’s allocation as “manifestly inappropriate”.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “This is a disappointing result, but it is clear that the legality of the judgement has split the highest judges in the land, which shows that we made the right decision in appealing it.

“We maintain that as Liverpool is one of the most deprived areas in the country, the Government should have fully assessed this to make sure there was no unfair discrimination when making its decision.

“European funding is meant to tackle economic inequality, yet as the poorest area in the north west we were awarded far less funding per head than the rest of the region, including wealthier areas such as Cheshire.

“The bottom line is that the Government took €275 million of funding allocated to English regions such as Liverpool and gave it instead to Scotland and Northern Ireland. They dressed this up as protecting them from being disproportionately affected by funding changes, yet the reality is that in percentage terms we have lost twice as much as they stood to lose.

“The Government has played the role of Robin Hood in reverse – taking from the poor to give to the rich.

“I am calling on them to do the right thing and reconsider. But I won’t hold my breath.”