Yorkshire and Humberside face halving of funds

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The Independent Online
A SEQUEL to the Full Monty might find Robert Carlyle and his Sheffield mates on a coach to Brussels to protest about the threat to jobs in a new European Union-financed enterprise park.

Hit by pit closures and the decline of heavy engineering, South Yorkshire has sunk into poverty worse than parts of Greece, Spain or east Germany and is lobbying to win the highest-possible EU aid rates. But other parts of Yorkshire and Humberside risk being barred from even the lower aid category, which would probably halve funding although cuts could be as high as pounds 70m a year.

"We are alarmed. Frankly I think it's going to be disastrous" says Robin Smail, director of the Yorkshire region's Brussels office. Income per head is 12 per cent below the EU average but this will count for nothing. Unemployment will be used to measure a region's prosperity and on paper, rates in Yorkshire and Humberside look a lot better than in say the coalfields of southern Belgium. Yet thousands who have given up seeking work are not counted, and many new jobs are low paid. The figures therefore tell nothing of the depression and the depth of the structural problems.

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