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Community Renewal and Levelling-up Funds

Volume 697: debated on Monday 14 June 2021

What steps he is taking to measure the effectiveness of the (a) community renewal fund and (b) levelling-up fund. (901082)

Through the levelling-up fund and community renewal fund, we are investing more than £5 billion in people, infrastructure, the regeneration of town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets. These funds will include high-quality evaluation, which is crucial to understanding the types of intervention that best support places to level up, right across the country.

I have tabled written parliamentary questions on this, which the Minister is yet to answer, but he also knows that I support the levelling-up fund, in that it is the only available funding on the table. Therefore, I want to work with the two local authorities in my constituency to ensure that we put forward the best bids for Ogmore constituents. Will he set out when the second and third funding round deadlines will be announced by him, or by the Secretary of State, so that local authorities can plan and ensure that they put the best possible bids forward for communities, because for many local authorities the 18 June deadline is simply too tight? I want to work with the Minister, and I would really welcome some constructive engagement to ensure that we get the very best for my constituents.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has asked his question. There will be further opportunities for local authorities to submit bids into the fund through subsequent rounds, and we are publishing more details about how the levelling-up fund will operate from next year later in this year. I was pleased to understand that his local authority, which I believe is in category 1, will be submitting a bid by 18 June. I hope it will be making good use of the £125,000 capacity funding that we are providing it with, which I know will help it to work closely with us and build that strong relationship with the UK Government. I look forward to receiving its bid, and I am always happy to meet him to discuss it in more detail.

It is now nearly two years since the Prime Minister announced the towns fund, yet 30 towns have only just received confirmation of what funding they will receive, 26 towns still have not received any response to their bid, and precious few projects that have been bid for have been completed. So will the Minister commit to publishing a report on which areas are receiving funding from the towns fund, the levelling-up fund and the community renewal fund, which have missed out, and the impact of any projects that have actually been delivered?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question and welcome him to his place; representing local government on these Benches is the greatest privilege that any of us could ask for, and I look forward to working with him constructively. On the towns fund, the details are already in the public domain on all the towns we have supported and announced town deals for. He rightly says that a number are still awaiting the outcome of their deal, and their details are also in the public domain. We are still in the application process for the levelling-up fund and for the community renewal fund, so we have not got a definitive list of bids that are in, but I very much look forward to working with him. The levelling-up fund and the community renewal fund are important opportunities for our constituencies, right across the country, to invest in upgrading the critical infrastructure that is so important to our constituents.