“Tory levelling up scheme risks bypassing devolution”, say Welsh Lib Dems

Today (16th January 2024) in the Senedd, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the UK Conservative Governments levelling up scheme.

The party has claimed that the scheme risks bypassing devolution and pits councils against one another in a scramble for limited funding.

Commenting, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:

“For years, the funding we received from the EU played a crucial role in filling in the gaps in our finances.

Unable to raise our own taxes or borrow sustainably for major projects, we as a nation relied on the EU’s schemes as a vital investment lifeline.

Then Brexit happened, and thanks to a rushed and mishandled exit overseen by the Tories, we here in Wales lost out on this vital lifeline and was forced, as we are today, to survive off scraps.

Make no mistake, not only does the replacement funding from Westminster offer far less money but it also comes with the added red tape of tighter control.

The shared prosperity and Levelling Up schemes from Westminster offer nothing but an unhelpful competitive model that’s good for nothing except for picking winners and losers, at the discretion of the Conservative Government.

Councils should not have to compete for limited funding, particularly when we are faced with an in-balanced system where well-resourced councils are able to place more polished proposals than their less affluent counterparts.

The money that is needed in Wales must be decided here in this very Senedd, not thousands of miles away where the needs and interests of our nation are ignored by an indifferent UK Tory government.

The Tories levelling up scheme risks by-passing our devolved institutions.

We need a sustainable and fair funding model for Local Authorities, both in Wales and UK-wide.

Council funding isn’t a competition, it’s high time the Tories get their acts together and realise this.”

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