The White Paper “Levelling Up the United Kingdom” set out a clear plan to level up every corner of the UK by 2030. We are also driving growth and unlocking housing across the UK with our new investment zones, and we are continuing to invest billions in regional infrastructure. That includes £1.7 billion allocated under the levelling-up fund, of which £500 million went to the north.
Previous Chancellors have not delivered the level of transformative resource required for levelling up. I know that the present Chancellor understands the huge potential that exists throughout the north of England, but it seems to many of us that the levelling-up agenda is sipping in the last chance saloon. Can the Minister say what will be done differently under this new Chancellor?
We are absolutely committed to the levelling-up agenda. South Yorkshire received £570 million through the regional cities transport scheme, £95 million through the levelling-up fund and £46 million through the shared prosperity fund, and our ambitions for levelling up continue.
Building on Bradford’s city of culture win and in a momentous year for Rugby League, I am supporting the plan for the transformation and regeneration of the home of the Bradford Bulls, the iconic Odsal stadium, to become a world-class sports, music and culture arena. This plan would be an incubator for the ambitions of the entire Bradford district, delivering more than £1 billion of socioeconomic benefits. Following the Bank of England’s repeated interventions, can the Minister confirm that round 2 of the levelling-up fund will still be going ahead in full, and will she and the Chancellor demonstrate that by meeting me, Bradford Council, the Bradford Bulls and the Rugby Football League to discuss our catalyst for growth?
I can confirm that we will be going ahead with the second round of the levelling-up fund. There should be decisions by the end of the year, and I wish the hon. Lady well with her bid. An independent assessment of the bids is going on at the moment, but if that meeting is possible, we will do it. Clearly we would need to decide if that was appropriate. I congratulate her on her success in the first round of the levelling-up bids, where she got £20 million for the Squire Lane leisure centre.
A key part of levelling up is the creation of investment zones, and the Chancellor will be aware of the proposals for a gigafactory at Coventry airport to support UK automotive manufacturing. Does the Minister agree that the joint application by the Labour Coventry City Council and the Conservative Warwickshire County Council for an investment zone at Coventry airport should be encouraged?
We are encouraging all higher and local authorities to look at the investment zones and to apply. I think they are a great tool for development, so I would absolutely encourage that application.
“Never has so much chaos been inflicted on so many by so few” will be the motto that will reverberate down the eons from this Government. Do they actually still believe in this fairy tale of levelling up? Is it not now just a matter of how far they are going to level us all down?
The Eden Project North is, as far as I am aware, the only project in the second phase of the levelling-up round that has planning permission and land allocated. I would like to know when the decisions will be made so that we can get this shovel-ready scheme going. Eden has £50 million to put on the table, and we are asking for £50 million as match funding, in effect.