Brandon Lewis rejects Edwin Poots’ claim that NI to lose £34m rural funds due to Brexit
The Northern Ireland Office has firmly reject claims from Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots that NI stands to lose £34m in rural funding over the next three years as a result of Brexit.
On Monday agriculture ministers from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales published an open letter to Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Secretary George Eustice, accusing the UK government of renaging on promises to ensure that EU funding to regional rural economies would not suffer due to Brexit.
The letter claimed that NI stood to lose £34m over the next three years while Scotland faces a £170m loss and Wales £160m.
They said there had been no meaningful dialogue to ensure “none of us would be left in a position where we lost out as a result of leaving the EU”.
Mr Poots said: “The UK Government must recognise its responsibility to engage in a meaningful way with us and to ensure that funding is allocated, not just in a way that is fair and right, but in the way that the Government committed to doing so.”
However Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis told the News Letter last night that the claims that NI could lose £34m are “simply not true”.
He said:“We have a very clear manifesto commitment to maintain the current annual budget for farmers across the United Kingdom in every year of this Parliament.
“This means that Northern Ireland farmers will continue to receive the same level of funding in 2021 as they received at the baseline in 2019.”
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said the Chancellor’s spending review on Wednesday confirmed that the government is delivering its manifesto commitments for 2021/22 to Northern Ireland by providing £315m to support farmers, land managers and the rural economy and £3.1m to support fisheries.
The NIO said this is on top of the remaining EU funding that farmers and land managers across the UK will receive.
“The manifesto committed to guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of this Parliament.” it said. This is being met through remaining EU money, with the Treasury topping this up with Exchequer funding to meet government manifesto commitments, it added.
Mr Poot’s department has not yet offered any reaction to Mr Lewis’ comments
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