Allocation of £6.4 million EU replacement funding for Rotherham's development projects announced

SENIOR councillors have divvied up how £6.4 million of EU replacement funding will be spent in Rotherham over the next two years.

South Yorkshire as a whole received £38.9 million for 2022 to 2025 from the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

This pot replaces the European Union streams which brought 410 million euros to the region between 2007 and 2013, and 180 million more from 2014 to 2020.

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Council leader Cllr Chris Read said: “Following Brexit, the government committed to ensuring that there continued to be regional funding, and that comes in the name of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

“Sadly that is less money to South Yorkshire then we would have received had we remained members of the European Union.

“While we are glad to have the money and we are going to spend it well and hopefully wisely, we are once again worse off under this government than we would have been otherwise.”

Cabinet members decided to put nearly £2 million of Rotherham’s share into support for businesses, including grant support where firms commit to the real living wage.

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Another £1.3 million will be spent on four projects aiming to get people who are “hardest to reach” into employment.

Cllr Read said the theme was around moving to a “more inclusive economy”.

He added: “We want to create more indigenous, locally-owned businesses, creating wealth in our communities and creating jobs for local people.”

The allocation includes £1.35 million to cover shortfalls in three inflation-hit projects being funded from other pots.

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The Maltby Grammar School renovation will receive £550,000, while Wentworth Woodhouse’s stables conversion gets £500,000 and the skills village at Gulliver’s Valley £300,000.

The first two of these three are projects led by Dame Julie Kenny - current chair of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and former commissioner at the borough council.

At the August overview and scrutiny meeting, Cllr Taiba Yasseen asked: “I look at these three projects, being a devil’s advocate, we have somebody very influential in Rotherham, who I have a huge amount of respect for, involved both with Maltby Academy and Wentworth Woodhouse.

“That’s when I begin to question when we’re funding certain projects, are we funding things we really need to make the biggest impact or are we funding organisations that we have good relationships with because they are influential and we are influential and it makes sense for the council?”

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RMBC chief executive Sharon Kemp said all capital projects were facing similar pressures and other funds had been used to shore up other schemes.

She added: “These were bids that we put together, there was an appraisal system to consider what met national criteria, so when we were bringing together the Levelling Up funds, there were lots of ideas that had to be then shaped and whittled down to things that actually met a government appraisal system.

“It’s about impact, and what can be quantified, qualified and delivered within the time periods that are there.”

The Children’s Capital of Culture project will receive £451,502 from the prosperity fund to create 40 paid traineeships for young people aged under 25.