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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:01 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth 3:01 pm, 26th June 2019

I will come to that in a moment. At the last debate, the Minister invited us to put forward our suggestions. We do not need to wait for a formal consultation; my hon. Friend Derek Thomas has demonstrated that. There have been consultation meetings with local enterprise partnerships and with the business community all over the country. It is up to us; we are leaders in our own communities. We should be making the most of these opportunities—today is one opportunity—so I will make some suggestions to the Minister, as he has invited suggestions about how we should go about allocating the funding.

First, we want to have designated funding for our regions. The EU funding that has been used so successfully is seldom the only source of funding. As other Members mentioned, it is often an opportunity to leverage additional funding. I want to get across the message that the huge investment in rail and buses in my constituency, where we have two universities, was enabled by European funding, but it was brought about by leveraging and working in partnership.

The way that the Treasury allocates funding and looks at gross added value often disadvantages areas with populations that are dispersed over large geographical areas. In the last five years, investment in cities and city regions has been successful, but those of us without cities—or even towns that meet the Government’s criteria of a population of 135,000—are disadvantaged. That geographical designation is really important for us to meet the opportunities of our local economy to grow, through the regional industrial strategies that feed into the national industrial strategies.