Community Funding: Scottish Borders

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – in the House of Commons on 29th November 2021.

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Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the community renewal fund on local communities’ preparedness for the introduction of the UK shared prosperity fund in the Scottish Borders.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The UK community renewal fund and its successor, the UK shared prosperity fund, are examples of how we will have more flexibility to support communities now that we have left the EU. The CRF is funding eight projects in the Borders including on employment support, skills development and environmental sustainability. That will help to pilot new approaches and is helping to inform the design of the UK SPF.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

I was delighted to see eight successful projects from the Scottish Borders secure funding from the community renewal fund. It is brilliant to see the United Kingdom Government delivering in all parts of this kingdom. I want to see even more successful bids from the UK shared prosperity fund, so will the Minister come to my constituency to visit the Burnfoot Community Futures trust to discuss how its application might be as strong as possible?

Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Last week, the Minister for Levelling Up Communities told us that many community renewal fund projects will finish late. That will further delay the UK shared prosperity fund, under which areas such as Cornwall have so far received only 1% of the amount that they lost in European funding, having been promised that they would get all of it back. Will the Minister tell us how the latest CRF delays will affect the roll-out of the UK shared prosperity fund?

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

All the successful community renewal fund bids have been given additional time to deliver their good programmes. We have asked them all to be in touch if there is any issue and we stand by our commitments to Cornwall and other places to which we have made commitments to match EU funding.

Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

There is a worrying pattern with this Government of overpromising and underdelivering, is there not? We have had the great train robbery and the return of the dementia tax and now they have postponed levelling up. The community renewal fund is plagued by delays. More than £1 billion of towns fund money has not even been allocated yet, and two years after the scheme was announced, it still has not delivered anything. If this is the Minister’s idea of levelling up, does he accept that it is just not good enough?

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The hon. Gentleman says that the scheme has not delivered anything. I was in Norwich on Friday opening the first project ever funded by the towns fund. Whether it is the towns fund, the future high streets fund, the community renewal fund, the shared prosperity fund or the levelling-up fund, this Government are determined to put the financial firepower behind communities’ ambitions across this entire United Kingdom, so that we can level up and unite this country.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Institute for Public Policy Research has pointed out that the UK shared prosperity funding of £1.5 billion from 2025 falls far short of the £11 billion that would have been received from the EU between 2021 and 2027. Will the Minister explain why the UK Government have not delivered on their promise to replace EU structural funds in full?

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The UK Government will match the spending that different places had through the EU. We have had a delighted reaction from many of the places across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have secured funding through the different routes that are now available, and we have all the additional flexibility and a reduction in the bureaucracy of those old EU schemes. The replacement funding not only matches the quantum of the funding that we used to get through the EU, but gets rid of that unnecessary bureaucracy.