Skip to main content

Levelling Up

Volume 717: debated on Tuesday 28 June 2022

The levelling-up White Paper set out a clear plan to level up every corner of the United Kingdom by 2030. At the spending review last autumn, the Government showed how we would deliver our ambitious plan by delivering over £600 billion in gross public sector investment over this Parliament. That includes £4.8 billion in increased investment in local communities through the levelling-up fund, £1.6 billion for the next generation of the British Business Bank’s regional investment fund, and £2.6 billion for the shared prosperity fund.

Wrexham’s levelling-up gateway bid has been supported by a 16,000-signature petition to create the first international sporting stadium in north Wales. Does my right hon. Friend agree that people are at the heart of the Government’s levelling-up agenda, and that the amount of people who have signed that petition demonstrates the need for such a scheme in places like Wrexham, which has been ignored by the Welsh Labour Government for 20 years?

My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for Wrexham. I remember her coming to see me to talk about the merits of this particular bid, which obviously has enormous popular support; the number of people who have signed her petition testifies to precisely that.

Real levelling up requires money, and that means everybody paying all the tax they owe. So why did the spring Budget allocate three times more additional funding to the Department for Work and Pensions than to HMRC to deal with fraud, when we know that every £1 spent on fraud in the DWP recovers £6, but every £1 spent on fraud in HMRC recovers £18? Why are the resources not prioritised to bring the greatest reward?

This is undoubtedly an important issue, and the hon. Lady is right to raise it. Clearly, we are at a very important moment in the fight against fraud. Only next month, the new Public Sector Fraud Authority reporting to this Department and the Cabinet Office will go live, backed up by an additional £25 million over the spending review period. This represents increased resources for further support in terms of active measures on data, intelligence, risk and enforcement—all the things we need to do to crack down on fraud and to pursue the perpetrators.