Wirral West MP shock at government’s failure to spend £3.5m EU money on disadvantaged children

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02 Aug 2019
Margaret Greenwood has spoken out about the government’s failure to spend £3.5m made available by the EU to alleviate child poverty and homelessness.
 
The Wirral West MP, who is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, was responding to the news that the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee in the House of Lords has written to the Home Office saying it is “extraordinary” that the EU funding has not been used, and to complain that the government has failed to deliver spending aimed at addressing “the worst forms of poverty”.
 
The UK was allocated the money for 2014 to 2020 from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived.
 
According to the BBC, about £580,000 of unspent cash has so far been taken back – and a further similar amount is at risk of being deducted at the end of the year.
 
There are now concerns that in the event of a no-deal Brexit all the remaining money might have to be returned.
 
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
 
“It is really shocking that the government has failed to spend this money from the EU on disadvantaged people, especially when so many children are going hungry.
 
“According to recent figures from the End the Child Poverty coalition, there are nearly 3,000 children in Wirral West growing up in poverty, with 4.1 million children across the country in poverty, and 14 million people overall.
 
“This EU money could have been spent on food or basic hygiene items for children and adults in need, advice or counselling services for vulnerable people or fun activities for children during the school holidays.
 
“Instead government negligence means this money may now have to be sent back.
 
“It is really shocking that those who could have really benefitted from this money have been let down so badly by the government.”
 
Lord Jay, chairman of the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, said:
 
“The government had an opportunity to help support the most disadvantaged people in the UK but has instead wasted over half a million pounds.
 
“All the other EU countries have found ways to spend this on some of the most deprived people – apart from us.
 
He also said that the fact the government is having to give back some of the money is “unbelievably inept” and that the committee found it “frankly unbelievable” when public services faced budget pressures that money “had to be given back because a way hasn't been found of spending it”.

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