"It is astonishing that it has taken the Government so long to come up with a possible FEAD project."
The government missed an opportunity to help the most deprived people in the UK, a Lords committee has found.
The accusation against the Home Office came as the government had to forfeit and return a total sum of over €1 million to the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).
FEAD awarded the UK €3.96 million between 2014 and 2020 under the conditions that the money was used to alleviate homelessness, child poverty and food deprivation.
However, the government had to return €433k because it’s plan to use the money on the UK’s Breakfast Club initiative, which sees schools across the UK provide pupils with breakfast, didn’t meet FEAD eligibility criteria.
A further €600k had to be returned because the government failed to use the funds before a deadline.
In a letter to the Home Office sent on Friday, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee chair, Lord Jay, said the delay in deciding where to spend the funds meant the most deprived missed out once again.
“The Government had an opportunity to help support the most disadvantaged people in the UK but has instead wasted over half a million pounds of its FEAD allocation through its inability to develop a suitable project,” Lord Jay wrote.
“The Committee rejected the Government’s explanation that the eligibility rules of the fund were too restrictive, and its administrative requirements too burdensome, noting the many and varied FEAD activities that other Member States have been able to implement.”
The government has now submitted a plan to FEAD to use the funds on a programme which would support young refugees and potential victims of modern slavery. The plan has not yet been approved.
Lord Jay added that the proposed programme was “very welcoming” but that it was “astonishing” that the Government had taken so long to set out an initiative to use the funds.
“With €600,000 of the UK allocation already gone, a further €600,000 is now at risk. With the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit on the horizon, the Committee has called for urgent clarity on how this would affect the UK’s access to FEAD money. The clock is ticking,” Lord Jay added.
Meka Beresford is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.
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