A PORTION of the UK's post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund should be allocated to the 'less developed' Tees Valley and Durham areas, an industrial alliance has said.

In a report calling on the government to commit to 'left behind places’ when finalising plans for leaving the European Union, local authorities group Industrial Communities Alliance (ICA) has today launched its own proposals for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace current EU funding.

The proposals argue that, in the absence of Brexit, the UK would be set to receive 'substantial additional EU funding' in the next spending round and adds this is because of three sub-regions which have fallen into the EU's 'less developed region status' (below the threshold of 75 per cent of EU average GDP per head) - Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, and the Tees Valley and Durham.

ICA estimates the extra cash for these additional areas would increase EU funding by £135m per year for these sub-regions, and says the replacement UK Shared Prosperity Fund would need to match these figures.

Acting National Chair of ICA, Councillor Russell Imrie, said: “Many voters in older industrial Britain backed Boris Johnson. Now is the time for him to ensure that our communities do not lose out from Brexit and to support our efforts to rebuild the economies of our areas.

“Thanks to European funding over the years, we’ve been able to make progress in replacing the thousands upon thousands of jobs lost from industries such as coal, steel, engineering and textiles but we still have a long way to go to match the prosperity in other parts of the country.

“We want to see the Prime Minister’s electoral promise translated into hard cash and real action on the ground to help deliver the growth that our communities still so clearly need.”

In response to the proposals, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen promised to campaign for investment to the region.

He said: “The government has already made its intentions clear in this new parliament that Teesside is at the forefront of its ambitions - whether that’s providing the funding needed for the former Redcar steelworks site or the introduction of free ports.

“I have already secured hundreds of millions of pounds of new cash from Government for vital projects in our region since been elected in 2017. With local voices in the treasury and the new wave of Teesside Tory MPs in the corridors of power, we can make sure the needs of the Tees Valley are addressed more than ever.

“I have made clear to government that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund should be devolved to the regions. Let’s not forget the money we get from the EU is not EU money, this is British taxpayer’s money recycled back to us with a whole host of strings attached. When the Shared Prosperity Fund kicks in at the end of this year, it must come directly back to local Mayors so we can direct investment most effectively to meet the needs of local people and local businesses.

“I will always be the first to bang the drum for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to make sure we are listened to by central government and are given the investment and funding we need and deserve.”