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Attracting Investment: Support for Towns

Volume 730: debated on Monday 27 March 2023

12. What steps he is taking as part of his Department’s levelling up policies to support towns in attracting investment. (904319)

The Government are supporting towns to attract investment through a wide number of levelling-up initiatives. We are establishing freeports and investment zones designed to incentivise private sector investment and job creation in some of our most deprived communities, and devolution deals are giving local areas the opportunity to tailor policy to local investors. The £2.6 billion UK shared prosperity fund has been designed around a key theme of growing the private sector across the United Kingdom, and the levelling-up funding programmes, totalling almost £10 billion, are designed to revitalise town centres and grow local economies.

Manchester and Trafford are cracking on with regenerating Wythenshawe and Sale town centres in my constituency, despite submitting excellent but ultimately unsuccessful levelling-up bids. Does the Minister really think that the best way to level up is to force cash-strapped councils to waste millions of pounds entering endless beauty parades, just to get the investment that they deserve?

That is why the Government will be publishing a full funding simplification plan in due course, but it is also why we are focusing on devolving more power and more money to local areas. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will join me in welcoming the fantastic trailblazer deal that we have just introduced in Manchester, which is giving the power and authority there to complete projects such as the one that he has referenced.

In Darwen, we have taken our £25 million town deal and managed to increase that to £100 million with private sector investment, and in Rossendale, as part of our £50 million-plus levelling-up funding—I thank my right hon. Friend the Chancellor for the £18 million in the Budget to level up the Rossendale valley—we look forward to going out and courting businesses. Does the Minister agree that the whole point of the levelling-up fund is to ensure that local authorities have to work with their local businesses to make sure they deliver best for their communities?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right; Government funding is just one part of the puzzle to ensure that local areas get the investment they need. Attracting that private sector investment is absolutely crucial, and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for all the work he has done locally to make sure we are fully levelling up Rossendale and Darwen.