Today I asked Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,
"What the Government’s policy is on the replacement of EU funding to community groups after the UK leaves the EU?"
He said, "The government has guaranteed support for projects which have signed agreements for EU funding. This guarantee applies even when those projects continue beyond EU exit, and we are considering future arrangements regarding domestic support for local growth."
I then asked him "A key aim of European funding for community groups is to promote skills and employment. Last week's Autumn Statement had no long term strategy for investment in skills and employment. Given how important this is for the UK to compete globally post-Brexit, does the Secretary of State agree that this shows yet again that the government simply has no plan for Brexit?"
He replied, "I completely disagree, and one thing I have noted is that in the honourable lady's own constituency, we have seen a 49% fall in unemployment since 2010 and I hope that she would welcome that. What we did see in the Autumn statement is further measures to keep the strength in our economy including the announcement of regional allocations of local growth fund including in her own area which will go on to generate growth and jobs."
Obviously this is a red herring. The fact unemployment in Bristol has fallen has nothing to do with whether we will have the necessary investment to thrive in a post-Brexit economy. And I am seriously concerned that the money given via the local growth fund won't cover what we'll lose if Britain leaves the single market.