Chancellor announces £2bn to prepare for no-deal Brexit

By Dan Peters and William Eichler | 01 August 2019

Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced a cash boost of up to £2.1bn in order to prepare the UK for a no-deal Brexit.

The cash includes an immediate cash boost of £1.1bn to 'prepare critical areas for EU exit on October 31' while up to £1bn will be made available for departments and the devolved administrations to bid for to 'enhance operational preparedness this year if needed'.

It has been reported that £38m of the £1.1bn will be divided up between the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for 'support of local areas' and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for consular support but the extent of Marsham Street's share is not yet clear.

MHCLG has yet to make a decision about whether to bid for any of the £1bn additional money but The MJ understands that conversations between the department and the Treasury are ongoing about how much local government can expect to receive.

Cllr Marianne Overton, a member of the EU exit ministerial local government delivery board, said: ‘We have identified a number of needs that would enable councils to better mitigate any impact and take advantage of any opportunities. It’s much-needed money and I hope MHCLG will bid.’

Another member of the board, Cllr Paul Carter, said: 'The money is very good news. There remain a number of unresolved issues but I'm hopeful that by the time we get to October 31 they will be sorted. The Government is clearly listening but, most importantly, acting on the information received.'

The cash has been made available by the Treasury to allow Government departments to step up ‘vital operational preparations’ ahead of the UK's planned departure from the EU at the end of October.

Mr Javid said: ‘With 92 days until the UK leaves the EU it’s vital that we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready.

‘This additional £2.1bn will ensure we are ready to leave on October 31 – deal or no deal.’

The extra cash brings the total amount of money available for Brexit preparations to £6.3bn, with the National Audit Office continuing to take a close interest in preparations up to October and planning to review the expenditure across Government departments in a report due in the spring.

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, also vowed to scrutinise the spending, adding: 'Just because Boris Johnson is making it sound like he’s fighting a war, with seven-days-a-week meetings in Whitehall, that is not licence to spend taxpayers’ money like water, throwing good money after bad.'

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