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Thursday, April 14, 2022

MP welcomes £585m extra funding for Wales

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes (pictured) has welcomed the launch of the Shared Prosperity Fund by the UK Conservative Government. 

The fund will see places in Wales that need it most draw up plans this year to deliver on their local priorities, based on a conditional allocation of funding over the next three years. 

This could include regenerating rundown high streets, fighting anti-social behaviour and crime, or helping more people into decent jobs.

Wales will see £585 million made available under the fund.

The Government says the money delivers on its commitment to match the previous EU funding from the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund. 

However, they say the fund will be much more flexible and locally led, "freeing communities in Wales from the bureaucratic, rigid and complex processes of the EU Structural Funds."     

Ministers say bureaucracy will be slashed, and there will be far more discretion over what money is spent on. 

EU requirements for match funding, which impacted on poorer places, will be abolished.  

Instead of regional agencies, funding decisions will be made by elected leaders in local government, with input from local members of parliament and local businesses and voluntary groups.

The new fund also includes over £101 million for Wales for an adult numeracy programme, Multiply, which will support people with no or low-level maths skills get back into work. The scheme will offer free personal tutoring, digital training, and flexible courses to improve adults’ confidence and numeracy skills.   

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is in addition to other levelling up funding for Wales, including the Community Ownership Fund and the Levelling Up Fund, which has already invested £121m into Wales, and £790 million for city and growth deals. 

This is in addition to the record £18 billion per year block grant settlement announced by the UK Government for Wales – the largest since devolution over 20 years ago and an increase of £2.5 billion.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “This is a huge boost for people across Wales, who will now have access to this fund to level up their communities and make decisions about where they want to see the money spent." 

Simon Baynes MP said: “The people of my constituency and the rest of Wales voted to leave the European Union in 2016, and I’m glad to see the UK Conservative Government delivering on the will of the people once again. 

"The UK Shared Prosperity Fund has great potential to help revive communities, tackle economic decline and reverse geographical disparities in communities like Clwyd South. I’m thrilled that North Wales will be receiving £126 million, allowing us to build back better out of the pandemic.”      

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Despite the manifesto promises made by the UK Government, post-EU funds leave Wales with less say, over less money.

"It remains the case that Wales will lose more than £1bn that could have been used to grow the economy and support some of our most disadvantaged communities. 

“The Welsh Government has consistently called for a joint approach. In recent weeks, we have engaged in intensive talks with the UK Government to try and secure a pragmatic way forward. 

"Although there has been some movement, the funding plans set out today simply do not reflect the needs of Welsh communities. We are concerned that far too little will reach those communities most in need. 

"The Welsh Government suggested an alternative formula which would distribute funding more fairly across Wales according to economic need, but this was rejected by the UK Government. The result of this is that funding has been moved away from our most disadvantaged communities. 

“We will now work with local government partners and stakeholders to maximise the opportunities that exist for programmes that will support our mission to create a stronger, fairer and greener Wales."

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