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Dickson Concerned that Shortfall in EU Funding After Brexit Could Result in Job Losses

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has said he is gravely concerned at the risk of significant job losses in Northern Ireland as a direct result of the UK Government’s failure to replace EU funds that were lost after Brexit.

Mr Dickson was speaking after a consortium of community groups revealed that 1,700 jobs could be at immediate risk.

Mr Dickson said: “I have heard from groups such as the ESF Peer Group, who provide employment support programmes, that the funding they used to receive from the European Social Fund (ESF) is no longer available, and the UK’s Levelling Up fund has not been able to fully meet the shortfall.

“Central to the issue is that Stormont departments previously provided partial ‘match funding’ to that supplied by the ESF. As of yet, no guarantee has been given as to whether this match funding will continue.

“For instance, the ESF had previously provided about £40m a year, which was 35% match-funded from Stormont, giving £54m in total. Next year, it is anticipated that £30m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be made available to the sector, but no match funding has been confirmed. That is a huge discrepancy”.

Mr Dickson continued: “And it is not just ESF funding that has been lost thanks to Brexit, Invest NI previously received substantial grants from an EU fund known as the ERDF. That funding is no longer available as a result of Brexit and has not yet been fully replaced by the UK government either”.

Mr Dickson concluded by echoing the words of a senior official at the Department for the Economy earlier in the year, when he said: “Over the next three years, more than £100m in core funding, which would have come from the EU, may no longer be available. The ramifications of that shortfall should worry us all”.

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