Government fined after Merseyside ERDF audit

Michael Hunt

The Government will be charged with fines totalling £284m by the end of the year for irregularities in its handling of European-funded programmes.

Merseyside is amongst the four areas on the 2000-06 European Regional Development Fund programme under review, following an order by the European Court of Auditors after it found irregular expenditure in the region.

The European Commission said a further audit of 2000-06 ERDF spending would begin in October, with all the audits finalised by the end of the year.

The Department for Communities and Local Government accounts predict that this audit could lead to fines of up to £124m, raising the total fines forecast for 2009/10 to £284m.

The anticipated fines are on top of the £143m the department paid to the European Commission in 2003-09 for irregularities in its handling of ERDF programmes, with £106m paid in the past two years alone.

The other three audits ordered by the European Court of Auditors cover spending in the North East, south Yorkshire, and the South West.

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