Levelling-up Fund

Wales – in the House of Commons on 17th March 2021.

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Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

What assessment he has made of the potential benefits of the levelling-up fund for Wales.

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

What assessment he has made of the potential benefits of the levelling up fund for Wales.

Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley

What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the levelling up fund.

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

The levelling-up fund is unquestionably good news for Wales. It will ensure that millions of pounds is invested in Welsh local authorities, providing much-needed local infrastructure and driving up regeneration in left-behind places.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

Would the Minister meet me about, and visit when possible, exciting projects in Clwyd South that fulfil the requirements of the levelling-up fund, such as Wrexham Council’s bold regeneration plans and the reopening of Corwen station in Denbighshire on the Llangollen steam railway?

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

I assure my hon. Friend that it is always a pleasure to meet him and hear about the enormous amount of hard work he is undertaking in his constituency. Unfortunately, I have been advised that it would not be appropriate for me to visit any specific project site, but I of course look forward to supporting him and other Members of Parliament who continue the work of using the funds being made available by the UK Government to drive forward regeneration in their constituencies.

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

I was delighted to see so much in the Budget for Brecon and Radnorshire. The levelling-up fund is extremely welcome, as is the commitment to the global centre for rail excellence in Coelbren in my constituency. However, parts of Brecon and Radnorshire are plagued by substandard broadband and mobile coverage. Could the Minister confirm that the levelling-up fund will make a genuine difference to structural problems like this that hold back rural areas such as mine?

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

We expect that the levelling-up fund can be used to invest in community infrastructure right the way across the board. Of course, the UK gigabit programme will invest in broadband and the hardest-to-connect areas of the United Kingdom. I was also delighted, of course, with the news about the global centre for rail excellence—my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pushed very hard for it—which is also going to be good news for the economy in that part of Wales.

Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley

Given that the Welsh Government have worked with Welsh local authorities and other stakeholders to produce a framework for regional investment, can the Minister tell the House why Ministers at England’s Housing Department, with no history of delivering within Wales and no record of working with communities in Wales or understanding their priorities, are the right people to be administering this so-called levelling-up fund in Wales? Is this the result of this Government’s fixation with undermining democratic devolution?

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

That was a rather disappointing question from the hon. Lady. The Chancellor has made £800 million available for the devolved Administrations across the United Kingdom and wants the UK Government to be able to work directly with local authorities and to hear about what their priorities are. I think it is absolutely fantastic that the Chancellor, as well as being able to deliver that £800 million, has found £740 million for the Welsh Government and has continued the support for businesses and individuals in Wales affected by the covid crisis. Perhaps I can pass the hon. Lady’s congratulations on to the Government for a fantastic Budget for Wales.