City Hall is seeking greater control over EU grants to the capital, amid concerns about how the UK Government might distribute future funds across England.
EU funds for England are bid for and allocated by the Westminster Government departments. Currently the Greater London Authority manages a regional sub-programme of projects but final control always remains with Ministers.
The UK Government plans to reform how it manages the grants and has told City Hall that the current arrangement “is not an option on the table.”
Instead London could be forced to bid for funding alongside other regions or settle for a “notional allocation within a national programme”.
A briefing document prepared for Mayor Boris Johnson warns this “would entail significant risk of loss of funds and strategic control” and that “it cannot be assumed London will receive further funding” under the 2014-20 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) programmes.
In an attempt to safeguard funding, City Hall has proposed London instead be granted the status of ‘Managing Authority’ which would give it direct control of grants allocated for London.
If successful, the move would put the City Hall on the same footing as the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and allow it to initiate specific projects without needing Government permission.
The briefing document says waiting for Ministerial approval has previously “held up major ERDF initiatives like the Green Fund and cable car”.
The new status would also give London “more direct access to European Commission decision-makers, and potential sources of funding.”
The Mayor’s proposal to gain direct control of EU grants is the latest of a series of moves to achieve greater financial autonomy. Following his re-election in May, Johnson established the London Funding Commission to explore how the capital might gain a greater share of revenue generated within it.
London’s change of status must be sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and would be decided next year as part of the EU’s 2014-20 budget process.