Government Incompetence Could Cost the North West Tens of Millions of Pounds.

Brussels, 19 September 2007 - Sir Robert Atkins MEP and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Delegation expresses disbelief that poor standards of the monitoring of EU grants by the Government could force the region to repay a substantial part of the funding.

European Commission Regional Policy spokesmen said that the European Court of Auditors found weaknesses in a number of English regions’ management and control systems for £4bn worth of regeneration funding received since 2001.

Some parts of UK such as Wales and the South West of England had a good auditing record but the worst problem the EC encountered was in the North West.

A Commission spokesman commented:

“It’s just a question of organisation, it’s not difficult; there are auditors, accountants aplenty in the United Kingdom who could do all this kind of stuff. They were doing something which was difficult, innovative and they didn’t take care to make sure that the plumbing was in place,”

Sir Robert said:

“Informed sources advise me that it is a cock-up not a conspiracy - namely incompetence on the part of the relevant Government Department. I have asked Westminster colleagues to question the Minister concerned and I shall pursue the case in the European Parliament.”

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