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Volume 586: debated on Monday 13 October 2014

The Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd have announced two new funds that will provide an additional £30 million of Government support for communities and local economies situated close to the route of HS2 phase one.

HS2 is crucial to the long-term prosperity of this country. It will free up space on our railways, cut journey times between our biggest cities and drive forward our economy for years to come. However, it is only right we do all we can to help those living and working close to this vital railway. The Community and Environment Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund are being introduced to further help those on phase one of the route between London and the West Midlands.

The £30 million that will be provided from these two funds is in addition to the comprehensive package of support we have already announced and will further help communities and businesses make the most of this once-in-a-generation scheme and crucial part of the Government’s long-term economic plan.

The Community and Environment Fund will support local projects that bring community and environmental benefits to areas affected by HS2, in a similar way that the countryside initiative did for HS1. Examples of projects that could be supported include refurbishment of local community centres or sports grounds and environmental conservation and enhancement. All projects supported by this fund will be in addition to the extensive environmental mitigation already set out within the HS2 Bill and environmental statement.

The Business and Local Economy Fund will support local economies and hence employment, for example, by supporting activities that increase footfall in areas affected by HS2 construction. This fund responds to the representations that honourable Members have made on behalf of businesses in their constituencies that are on the phase one line of route. It is in addition to the wide-ranging measures that we will put in place to enable local people and businesses to obtain employment and contracts arising out of the construction and operation of the railway.

HS2 Ltd will be working with the not-for-profit charity New Philanthropy Capital, which has extensive experience of similar grant schemes, to ensure the funds are delivered in the most effective way possible. They will also advise HS2 Ltd on eligibility and application criteria informed by engagement with local authorities and local enterprise partnerships. We expect to announce full details of the funds, following this work, in early 2015 with the funds becoming available following Royal Assent of the HS2 hybrid Bill.