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UK Community Renewal Fund

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2021

Wales will be better off as a result of the UK community renewal fund. Compared with its European predecessor, the new fund will be better targeted and better aligned with our domestic priorities, and will put decision making squarely into the hands of local authorities.

According to the community renewal fund’s prospectus, the devolved Administrations will have a place within the governing structures, but when the Scottish Affairs Committee took evidence from academics a fortnight ago, we heard of confusion as to what role they would realistically play. So will the Minister set out exactly how the devolved Governments will be involved in the decision-making structures for how funds are released?

Devolved Governments will be involved in the decisions, but so will the local Members of Parliament and local authorities, and I would have thought that the hon. Lady would support that. Only this morning, I read a fascinating article on that well-known website Liberal Democrat Voice, in which the leader of her council—a Liberal Democrat himself—called on the UK Government to step up and empower local authorities. That is exactly what we have done, so I look forward to being praised in the next edition of Lib Dem Voice.

The Tories have repeatedly claimed that Wales would not be worse off when EU structural funds come to an end, but the community renewal fund of which the Minister spoke is a shocking betrayal of that commitment. The fund’s value—£220 million for the whole of the UK—is a just a fraction of the £375 million a year that Wales was promised. Why are communities in Wales once again having to foot the bill for the Tories’ broken promises?

I am sorry to say that the hon. Gentleman, whom I greatly like and respect, perhaps has not been told that not only will the fund be there to enable access to the shared prosperity fund, but we will continue to receive European structural funding for the next three financial years at least. I looked this morning at the figures for European structural funds for Wales, and we will receive more on average next year than we have received previously, so there will actually be no loss of funding whatsoever as a result of coming out of the European Union.