Just 10% of a flagship €1bn fund earmarked for rural development in Wales has been spent – despite the funds having been received by the Welsh Government more than 3 years ago.
According to a Written Assembly Question received by Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies, just £92.1m of payments have been made since June 2014, when the EU-backed Rural Development Programme 2014-20 was launched.
All approved projects will be fully funded even if they continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
However, if all the money is not spent by 2020 then EU rules dictate that the remaining funds must be returned to the EU Commission, and with the UK set to leave the EU in 2019, AMs have warned the Welsh Government it faces a ‘use it, or lose it’ situation.
Paul Davies AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, fears that money could be lost with the UK’s departure from the European Union fast approaching.
“Labour Ministers are dragging their heels on getting this vital money to the rural communities that need it, and there is a very real danger that much of it is going to be lost if they don’t get their act together.
“Farms are literally disappearing, wages are reaching new lows, and TB continues to ravage the countryside. Meanwhile the Welsh Government is sitting on a pot of money that could offer huge relief if administered now to those who need it.
“I have very real concerns that if this lack of momentum continues, the Welsh Government could by 2020 find itself in a situation where they are sending millions of pounds back to Brussels – money which should have been spent boosting the rural economy.
“We need assurances from the Cabinet Secretary that she is working to a deliverable timetable for administering these vital payments.”
Notes to Editors:
FOR ANSWER BY
THE CABINET SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT AND RURAL AFFAIRS
ON 26 JUNE 2017
Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Minister provide a breakdown of funding provided to local authority projects and private projects under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by June 2017? (WAQ73682)R
Lesley Griffiths: To the end of May 2017 payments of £92.1m have been made under the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
All payments to date have been made to the private sector.
Local Authority projects will be receiving payments in the next few months through the LEADER scheme.