Farming funding pledge is welcomed by council leader
A pledge by ministers to keep vital subsidies flowing to Northumberland's farmers despite the vote to leave the EU has been given a guarded welcome by the leader of the county council.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has promised the region’s agricultural businesses he will match community funding until at least 2020.
It had been suggested that quitting the EU would put at risk support worth more than £4 billion a year to the UK - but the government has vowed to match that over the next four years, with public money.
Council leader Grant Davey said he would now be holding the Conservatives to their word: “Hard-working farmers are a key part of Northumberland’s economic make-up, and financial subsidies underpin their plans and the thousands of jobs they support.
“I am pleased Chancellor Hammond has committed his government to keep the funds available but along with other councils in the north east, I will not ease up in making the case for further support for all aspects of investment and growth here.”
Mr Hammond said: “The UK will continue to have all of the rights, obligations and benefits that membership brings, including receiving European funding, up until the point we leave the EU. We recognise that many organisations across the UK which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance.
“That’s why I am confirming that structural and investment funds projects signed before the Autumn Statement and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave.”
His announcement was also heralded as helping the area’s devolution ambitions - a £3.4 billion package would see local authorities handed powers over areas including social care and transport.
Council leaders of the North East Combined Authority had put discussions with Westminster on hold last month, concerned at the possible effects of the Brexit vote, but Stephen Purvis of the Policy North think-tank said: “This is really welcome news for our region.”