By Claire West

Councils will be instantly informed of millions of pounds they could be securing from the EU to support and improve services for local people, thanks to a new online tracker which has been launched by the Local Government Association.

The European and International Unit at the LGA will be providing constant web-based updates as new funding opportunities are made available by Brussels, to help councils target their bids for European resources more effectively.

The funding tracker is designed to address the results of a recent survey of councils which showed that while there is good awareness of EU structural funds such as European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund, there are many other pots of money authorities could benefit from which are being overlooked. During the current seven year funding round, at least two billion euro is available to the UK from these funds.

The tracker makes up part of an improved service for member authorities which will also include monthly lobbying updates. The website will highlight key EU policy proposals which could affect local government, explain how the LG Group is lobbying on their behalf and how they can get involved.

Since 50 per cent of regulation affecting local government originates in Brussels, most of which come at a cost, shaping new EU laws is an important part of reducing the financial burden on councils.

Cllr David Wilcox, Chairman of the European and International Programme Board at the LGA, said:

"Money is tight for all local authorities at the moment, so if there are European resources available which councils could make better use of, they need to know about them.

"The billions available to councils in the current EU spending round cover a whole host of activities, from skills development and local regeneration to promoting better community relations.

"Accessing the European pot of gold is complex and there’s stiff competition from the other 26 EU countries. There can be a fog of funding announcements that come from Brussels, and all councils should benefit from the signposting of funding opportunities that the LGA is now providing through this practical, online tracker.

"The LGA is working to get EU funding right for the future so it is simpler to access and can more effectively target local priorities. Reducing bureaucracy at all levels of government is key to making public spending more efficient. Offering councils a simpler way of keeping track of European funding achieves the double win of saving them time and money up front while also helping to bring in new resources."