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Support for Towns

Volume 660: debated on Thursday 16 May 2019

The Department continues to work closely with colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that towns and communities across England are supported post Brexit. In March, the Government announced a new £1.6 billion stronger towns fund for England, which will boost growth and give communities a stronger say in their future after Brexit.

Earlier this year, the Government announced that £55.6 million will be made available to local government to cover the additional expenditure resulting from Brexit, and it is important that councils such as Stockport are prepared from day one after we leave the EU, so that my constituents can have uninterrupted local services. How will my hon. Friend ensure that, as local authorities make their bids for the stronger towns fund, towns and villages such as Cheadle are able to feel the benefit?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on her tireless work representing and championing her constituents in the north-west. More than half the allocated stronger towns fund will go to towns across the north of England, and just over £281 million will be allocated to the north-west region. There will be further opportunity to deliver locally led projects, create new jobs and support the Government’s commitment to building a more prosperous economy across the United Kingdom.

One of the ways that the Government could start moving on regeneration, not just in England but across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is to set out when the consultation on the shared prosperity fund will start. It was meant to start before December 2018, but Ministers from the Treasury, the Wales Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy do not know when it will be. Perhaps Ministers from the Department for Exiting the European Union can give us some answers for a change.

The hon. Gentleman will have observed that we have not yet reached a deal on the withdrawal agreement. The shared prosperity fund is the pot of money that will be allocated across the UK once we have left the EU. The withdrawal agreement still has to go through. We recognise the importance of reassuring local areas at that point that the shared prosperity fund will be distributed, but it does not make any sense to do that ahead of the ratification of the deal.