Our study “Beyond Brexit” forms the basis of a major Local Government Association discussion document on the future of funding currently sourced from the EU. Our research considers the £8.4 billion in European Union Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) the UK had been due to receive for the period 2014-20, and presents a case for domestic continuation of investment to address regional disparity. Following the referendum there was no initial guaranteed programme of regional aid in the UK. Once the UK had voted to leave the EU Shared Intelligence produced an independent report which was commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) which consisted of two key components:
- Case studies to support the case for continuation of a form of locally-driven regeneration funding once the UK has left the EU.
- Evidence report and policy recommendations on the options for the future design of a locally-driven regeneration funding policy in England.
It was considered that the use of case studies would be a helpful way to illustrate what has worked well and what has not worked well in the current ESIF programme. The case study interviews highlighted how essential EU funding streams are to delivering local transformation and outcomes. They developed a clear narrative around the risks of not having a funding programme in place and provided valuable advice on what successor arrangements need to be put in place ahead of the UK leaving the EU.
During the course of the research, which took place between December 2016 and February 2017, Shared Intelligence engaged with a number of local authorities, LEPs and other partners including universities, membership organisations and third sector organisations. This helped us to arrive at a balanced view of the 2014-20 ESIF programme, its benefits and the suggested recommendations for a successor funding programme targeted at local growth post-Brexit.
Methods and approach
The main methods we used were:
- A review of the existing literature on ESIF and Brexit.
- 13 case studies from across England and Wales which demonstrate the use of EU funding (in the 2014-2020 programme) by each local area. These were developed through telephone interviews with key stakeholders from local government and universities.
- Analysis of the funding scenarios that emerged for UK regional aid post-Brexit.