Wakefield sets aside £5m Brexit cash reserves

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A total of £5million has been set aside to mitigate any negative effects of Brexit on Wakefield.

The city council has bolstered its cash reserves amid uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with the European Union (EU) after it leaves the block next March.

Councils across the UK receive more than £8billion a year from the EU, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), but this will stop once Brexit is complete.

Although the government pledged to fill the funding gap, there is fear among leaders that political instability in Westminster could see that promise broken. 

There is also worry about how the prospect of a ‘no deal’ with the EU could hit communities.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box was one of a group of local politicians to meet with Communities Secretary James Brokenshire recently to raise concerns. 

Speaking at a ful council meeting on Wednesday, Coun Box said: “If we don’t get the funding that’s presently available through the EU from the UK Prosperity Fund, then we have to make sure we don’t lose out.

“We’ve earmarked some reserves for the implications of Brexit. We’re picking up the pace on finding out what it might mean for Wakefield if there is a ‘no deal’.

“Indeed even if there is a deal there will still be implications for places like this.”

Labour councillor Steve Tulley said he was worried that the government had spent 18 months “pontificating about who’s right and who’s wrong” and that the possible impact on workers’ rights in Wakefield could be critical.

Labour councillor Steve Tulley said: “It’s clear to everybody now that if we crash out without a deal that’s in line with protecting jobs and people’s terms and conditions, this area will suffer ever more than it’s already suffered.”

Nearly two thirds of voters in the district voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.