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European Regional Development Fund

Volume 539: debated on Monday 30 January 2012

15. What steps his Department is taking to ensure the efficient approval of applications to the European regional development fund. (92068)

The Government have improved the management of the ERDF. We have already saved the taxpayer £100 million on the last programme, and two thirds of the way through the current programme, two thirds of the funds have been allocated.

I thank the Secretary of State for using his weight to sort out the recent problems involving broadband and ERDF funding. Will he confirm that the North Yorkshire project and pilot can proceed to the next stage of the ERDF funding application?

The Secretary of State has indeed been helping in the negotiations with the European Commission to ensure that there is more flexibility on broadband projects, which is absolutely right. I understand that Connecting North Yorkshire will proceed with those plans forthwith.

Does the Minister accept that the big block on the approval of applications is the failure to provide the match funding that is needed for many investments to boost jobs and growth? There is £245 million going begging that is earmarked for Yorkshire. What is the Minister going to do about match funding?

The right hon. Gentleman is incorrect. The allocations that have been made are on track, and the correct proportion have been made for this point in the programme. Many match-funding opportunities are available, and they are being taken up, not least in Yorkshire. The chaos caused by the previous administration of the programme lost £100 million of taxpayers’ money that could have been invested, but by making the changes that we have made, we have saved that money for the taxpayer.