Since 2012, we have invested £174 million in 295 coastal communities fund projects throughout the UK. Those projects are forecast to deliver 18,000 jobs, and we have announced that round 5 of the coastal community fund, worth £40 million, will open shortly.
I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. The Lowestoft coastal communities team has developed an exciting strategy for the regeneration of the town’s historic seafront. Will my hon. Friend visit Lowestoft to see for himself the work that will transform Britain’s most easterly town into the east coast’s destination of choice?
The Social Mobility Commission’s “State of the Nation” report revealed that the socioeconomic prospects of those who live in rural coastal areas are poor. We have world-class industries and skills in many sectors, so what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that we realise our full potential?
I had the pleasure and privilege of visiting my hon. Friend’s constituency last year, and I saw those world-class skills in action, particularly in the nuclear supply chain. I am delighted that, through our industrial strategy and the northern powerhouse, we are supporting people throughout the country, so that they can grow the economy, wherever they may reside.
The Minister is leading on this issue, so he will know that the northern powerhouse growth deal, which will affect north Wales and its coastal communities, is about connectivity with Liverpool and Manchester and the improvement of infrastructure. Will he give an indication of when he will reach some conclusions on the budget for that growth deal?
Ultimately, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and his Ministers are leading on the north Wales growth deal, but with them I have an absolute determination to ensure that the deal delivers for the people of north Wales. On Thursday this week, I shall visit local authorities in north Wales to ask them what progress they have made and to update me on the projects that they would like to see.
I extend the condolences of the Scottish National party group to the friends and family of Councillor Kieran Quinn for the sadness and sudden loss they have faced.
Is the Minister aware of the Cardiff declaration by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions? It was signed in November by the Scottish Government, alongside representatives of more than 20 other EU regions. Does he agree with its statement that Brexit will have a disproportionate impact on coastal regions and their key economic sectors?
I do not agree with the statement that Brexit will have a disproportionate impact on the coastal regions, because taking back control of our fishing industry will pay a huge dividend for the people who live along our coast. It was hugely exciting for me to visit Dumfries and Galloway only last Thursday to talk about the borderlands deal, which is unique in that it goes from coast to coast, covers the English and Scottish border areas and is a partnership of two Governments—the Scottish Government and the UK Government—coming together as equals to deliver for the people of the borderlands.
That does not really answer the question. Coastal communities face economic and social deprivation, and the Cardiff declaration highlights the fact that a hard Brexit will exacerbate that. Will the Minister meet representatives of the CPMR, and does he agree with them that if this Government do the unthinkable and walk away from a deal, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should still be able to access EU funding programmes?
Of course I will be happy to discuss having a meeting with the people to whom the hon. Lady refers. However, I gently point out that this Government—the UK Government—have already invested £174 million in our coastal communities and are getting behind those communities. What have the Scottish Government done? I think nothing.