LONDON — Small and medium sized businesses risk losing out on billions in European Union funding when the UK formally leaves the trading bloc in 2019.
The EU has earmarked £3.6 billion in regional development funds for UK firms until 2020, but nothing beyond 2021, according to a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Regional development funds are EU funds meant to help correct regional imbalances across the 28-nation bloc. The funding is meant to help “support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and improve citizens’ quality of life.”
Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “Small businesses across the country are staring into a business support black hole from 2021.
“This is a particularly pressing issue for the many small firms with growth ambitions and those in less economically developed regions.”
The FSB found that businesses in Yorkshire and the North East were most likely have requested EU funds and therefore the most likely to be hit once EU funding is cut off.
Cherry said: “If the next Government is serious about developing an Industrial Strategy that delivers prosperity across all areas of England, it must replace EU funding dedicated to small business support and access to finance after we leave the EU.”
Businesses of all sizes are already beginning to suffer from a Brexit-driven skills shortage. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said on Tuesday that the number of suitable job candidates has fallen to its lowest level in 16 months.