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Regional Equality of Economic Opportunity

Volume 683: debated on Thursday 12 November 2020

The Government are doubling down on levelling up opportunity across the United Kingdom, ensuring that everyone benefits from economic growth. That includes longer-term measures such as £1 billion for local projects to boost local economic growth, alongside unprecedented support for businesses, workers and local authorities in every nation and region of the United Kingdom in the light of covid-19.

Cornwall has been in receipt of funding through the European regional development fund for many years. I am delighted that the Government have committed to continue to support the Cornish economy at a similar level through the UK shared prosperity fund, which will be vital for continuing to level up our country. With the current ERDF programme coming to an end shortly, it is vital that the replacement fund is put in place as soon as possible. Can the Minister update the House on when we can expect the Government to come forward with details of the shared prosperity fund?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question about Cornwall. I was delighted to have the chance to support the Cornish economy as part of a south-west visit over the summer, which included visiting him in his seat of St Austell and Newquay. As we said in our manifesto, we will introduce a UK shared prosperity fund that will match at a minimum the current levels of funding to each nation from EU structural funds. The arrangements for the fund will be confirmed following the upcoming spending review.

In order for us to truly level up, we will need to mobilise billions of pounds of private capital. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as part of the national infrastructure strategy, we should launch a new financial institution such as a British development bank to make that happen?

The Government are committed to ensuring that businesses and infrastructure projects continue to have access to the finance they need. The UK has a range of existing tools to support investment, including the UK guarantees scheme. The Government will bring forward further measures to boost investment in UK infrastructure as part of the national infrastructure strategy.

This year has presented many challenges, but as my right hon. Friend will know from her visit to my constituency in the summer, there remains a strong desire to see a levelling-up agenda in constituencies like mine, with better infrastructure, better educational standards and more affordable housing. Can she assure me that this Government remain committed to levelling up constituencies like Bolsover?

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend once again on his historic election victory in Bolsover exactly 11 months ago. I was delighted to visit him in Bolsover during the summer. I can assure him that the Government are as committed to levelling up opportunity across the UK today as we were last December.