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Levelling-Up Fund: Welsh Communities

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 1 March 2023

6. What assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the impact of the levelling-up fund on Welsh communities. (903774)

11. What assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the impact of the levelling-up fund on Welsh communities. (903779)

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues about how the £330 million allocated to Wales so far through the levelling-up fund is supporting communities, creating jobs, driving up economic growth and keeping the Government’s commitment to ensure that Wales does not lose a penny as a result of coming out of the European Union.

The Labour Welsh Government have badly let down Clywd South and Wrexham by scrapping the A483 junction upgrade, which would have unlocked substantial investment and jobs in our community. Does my right hon. Friend agree that they need to support and maximise the benefits of the UK Government’s Welsh levelling-up fund projects by investing in road upgrades across Wales?

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. The Welsh Government’s response to the roads review gives the impression that Wales is closed for business by determining that no further road-building projects will take place. I urge them to consider the impact of not building roads on the economy and the long-term prosperity of Wales. They should consider how they might build on the record support that Wales has received through the levelling-up fund and city and growth deals by rebuilding roads and improving connectivity across Wales.

Dydd gŵyl Dewi hapus, Mr Speaker. The levelling-up fund offered prospects for communities such as Barry that had been ignored by the Welsh Labour Government for many years. In the last levelling-up fund round, however, Cardiff bay, which has received billions of pounds for regeneration in recent decades, received a further £50 million, but Barry Making Waves, which is delivering a marina project, was ignored. What hope, prospect and opportunity can I offer people in Barry for the next round of levelling-up funding?

I fully understand my right hon. Friend’s disappointment that the bid was not successful on this occasion, and I pay tribute to him for being such a champion for that particular bid and for his constituency. I suggest to him that there is going to be a third round of levelling-up funding, and I hope that local authorities that have not thus far been successful will apply.

Dydd gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb. Will the Minister please join me in congratulating Mountain Ash in my constituency on being shortlisted for the Let’s Celebrate Towns competition, which is being announced here in Parliament this evening? On this St David’s Day, will he also now join me in urging the UK Government to restore the £1.1 billion missing in Wales, and allow the Welsh Government to administer those funds to enable every community in Wales, including Cynon Valley, to thrive?

First, Mr Speaker, I would like to say llongfyfarchiadau mawr to the constituents of the hon. Lady. I do not recognise the figure that she has just quoted: the UK Government have made sure that record funding has flowed through to the Welsh Government, and in replacing the funds that we used to receive from the European Union we have made sure that Wales has not lost out by one penny. The UK Government have been working directly with the 22 local authorities across Wales, including the hon. Lady’s, to ensure that we can continue to deliver jobs, prosperity and growth in Wales.

The Minister says that he does not recognise the figure of £1.1 billion—well, the people and communities of Wales will recognise that £1.1 billion when it fails to materialise any significant improvement in their communities and healthcare outcomes, or in business investment. What will he do to compensate the people of Wales for the paltry levelling-up funding that is no match for European funding?

The hon. Gentleman will know perfectly well that it is not just levelling-up funding that is replacing EU funds: it is levelling-up funds, community ownership funds, community renewal funds and shared prosperity funds. On top of that, the Government are delivering nearly £790 million in growth deals. Wales has not lost out by one penny as a result of the UK Government’s implementing the result of the referendum, in which the people of Wales voted to leave the European Union.