Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:17 pm on 15th March 2023.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Elliott. I congratulate my hon. Friend Shaun Bailey on securing this important debate on Tipton, Wednesbury and the levelling-up fund. I also thank my hon. Friend Jane Stevenson and my right hon. Friend Wendy Morton for their contributions—I will address them.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich West is a committed champion for his area and, importantly, a committed advocate of levelling up. Debates such as the one we are having are excellent opportunities to not only talk about the levelling-up agenda but engage with Members such as my hon. Friend, who does so much for his constituency and wants the very best for his area.
Local leadership matters: that is what the levelling-up fund, at its core, is all about. It is about backing local projects and initiatives that restore people’s pride in the places they live and work and help to draw in new opportunities and investment. That is why the levelling-up fund is so over-subscribed. Round 2 was exceptionally competitive, with just under £9 billion of bids submitted for £2.1 billion of funding. That meant that we had a lot of high-quality shortlisted bids that we were unable to fund, including Sandwell’s Tipton town centre regeneration bid. It is also why my Department has identified just over £210 million of unallocated departmental budgets that we are using to fund 16 high-quality regeneration projects, including the Tipton town centre bid, announced in today’s Budget.