UK Gov shared prosperity fund put at risk by National Service ‘gimmick’

A UK government fund that has delivered almost £600m to Wales is at risk because of the Tories’ National Service gimmick.


The Conservatives’ first big announcement of the General Election campaign drew £1.5bn out of UK Shared prosperity fund, designed as a replacement to EU funding which the UK no longer receives following its exit from the European Union.


Since the fund began in 2022, Wales has received almost £600m for projects designed to support the government’s flagship Levelling Up plans, but the fund has been criticised for overcentralisation and political use.


As Keir Starmer made clear, when he spoke at Welsh Labour Conference in 2023: “The decision-making role for the Welsh government on structural funds, will be restored. It’s time for Wales to take back control.”


That is the change a Labour Government in Westminster would make. A relationship of mutual respect, building on the partnership working that is already underway between the Welsh First Minister, Vaughan Gething and Shadow Cabinet.


On Sunday, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies has explicitly denied Wales would lose out on funding, in a statement that now appears categorically false.


The plan has received a sceptical reception, even with Rishi Sunak’s own party, with two defence ministers rejecting the policy just days before it was announced.


The Welsh Government was not consulted on the Conservative proposals, which would see 18-year-olds taking part in some form of national service, involving military and non-military service, some of which would take place in devolved areas.


Speaking on a visit to Ynys Môn (Anglesey) today with Labour candidate Ieuan Môn Williams and Welsh Labour Leader, Vaughan Gething, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves set out her commitment to the future of structural funding that delivers for communities in Wales.


Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:


“The Tories are in disarray with their desperate half-baked gimmick. They’ve broken their promises on levelling up, and undermined devolution time and time again.


“When done properly, these funds can reach into communities that have experienced deprivation to galvanise new opportunities and economic growth.


“We are committed to delivering funds that promote economic development in communities like Yns Mon, restoring the decision-making role on structural funds to Wales and backing the creation of good, local jobs.”


“Only Labour offers the change Wales needs. We will serve in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom.”


Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens said:


“The Tories continue to sell-out Wales when it suits them to fund their chaotic gimmicks.


“Rishi Sunak’s desperation continues to divert much-needed funding from communities like Ynys Môn, which is brimming with opportunity that his party has failed to unlock over the last 14 years.


“Only Labour offers the change Wales needs. We will work closely with the Welsh Labour government to deliver the opportunity our country deserves.”


Welsh Labour Leader, Vaughan Gething said:


“A vote for anyone other than Welsh Labour at this election, will be a vote for the Conservatives to keep using Wales as a cash machine.


“Rishi Sunak has undermined devolution and shortchanged the people of Wales with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Now he wants to scrap it entirely.


“Labour is offering to turn the page on this Conservative chaos and deliver the change our country is crying out for. Only Labour has a credible plan to invest in Wales. We will restore the power to decide how these funds are spent back to the Wales, bringing opportunities to North and West Wales as well as valleys communities.


‘With our missions for the future, Labour has a long term, serious plan to change Britain with growth and opportunity that boosts the Welsh economy.”


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