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National service plan ‘could take millions in funding from Wales’

29 May 2024 4 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at a train station in Cornwall on day 6 of the General Election campaign. Photo
Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Conservative plans to launch national service for 18-year-olds could deprive some of the poorest areas of Wales cash for community safety and high street regeneration.

Across the UK, Merthyr Tydfil, Cornwall and the Tees Valley are among the areas with the most to lose from the proposals, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The plan to close the UK Government’s flagship UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) by 2028 and use £1.5 billion to support military and volunteering opportunities for 18-year-olds could result in wealthier areas across southern England receiving “a substantial increase in net funding”, researchers found.

Committed

But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he is “absolutely committed” to levelling up in Cornwall, on a visit to Penzance on Wednesday.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities previously announced plans to spend £2.6 billion on local authorities between 2022 and 2025, to offer councils a “flexible approach” towards three primary areas: communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

With the UKSPF figure set to reach £1.5 billion per year by March 2025, the Government claimed it could deliver on its “commitment to match EU structural funds for each nation” after Brexit.

The Conservative Party has costed its national service plan at £2.5 billion, with the remaining £1 billion to come from a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion.

Major shift

David Phillips, IFS associate director, said: “The Conservatives’ plan to wind up the UKSPF and use the resources instead to help pay for a new national service scheme would represent a major shift in how funding is allocated across the country.

“Rather than being targeted at poorer areas and aimed at levelling up, the funding would be spread across the country based on where 18-year-olds are undertaking their military or community service.

“The scheme may therefore create opportunities for young people across the UK but would mean hundreds of millions less in funding for community and economic development in Wales, Cornwall and the North and Midlands of England.”

According to the IFS, the UKSPF is worth £145 per person in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, rising to £246 in Blaenau Gwent in South Wales and £273 in Merthyr Tydfil.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has a series of initiatives on its Shared Prosperity Fund webpage, including a start-up grant scheme, up to a maximum project cost of £2,000 to help eligible new businesses grow, a decarbonisation scheme for up to £50,000, and a tourism attraction capital scheme for up to £20,000.

The UKSPF is worth £6 or less per person in areas of southern England including Oxfordshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Medway in Kent and Brighton and Hove.

Mr Phillips said the UKSPF “is in need of significant reform” because funding allocations “are based to a large extent on data from the mid-2000s and contain a big ‘cliff edge’ which mean areas whose characteristics differ just a little can get vastly different amounts of funding”.

Placement

The national service plan would mean all 18-year-olds would be legally required to take up either a 12-month placement in the armed forces or cyber defence or give up the equivalent of one weekend a month to volunteer in their communities.

Mr Sunak was asked by reporters in Cornwall if regions receiving UKSPF cash would miss out as a result of funding being repurposed for his scheme.

The Prime Minister replied: “I am absolutely committed to levelling up in Cornwall and you can see our track record.”

He pointed to investment in high streets, hospitals and transport infrastructure in Cornwall, and added: “Those are all examples of the investment that is going into levelling up here in Cornwall and that will always continue under a Conservative government led by me.”

Mr Sunak has previously said: “This modern form of national service will mean that young people get the skills and the opportunities that they need which is going to serve them very well in life.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
26 days ago

Ah yes of course. It’s an uncosted plan but the cost will be covered by emptying out our coffers in Wales, part of their unlevelling plan or ‘Levelling Wales Completely’ plan. We’re about to pick up our ballot box pencils and tell them we don’t want them and their sick ideology YET again.

Gareth
Gareth
26 days ago

This is par for the course for Sunak, as he boasted to supporters in Tunbridge Wells how he took funds from deprived urban areas to give to richer Tory voting areas, disgusting that he is so proud of it, the nasty party at their worst.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DxegB9J-mn1A&ved=2ahUKEwiizNTM4bKGAxXtZEEAHVoqDEgQwqsBegQIEBAE&usg=AOvVaw3TEG2760TrOJ4bMxAsOmbI

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
26 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Tidied up the link for you, (don’t need the google tracking rubbish):

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago

No point getting worked up about this. It will never happen. Rishi will hang on to his seat but his party will be a shrunken empty vessel squealing its abuse from the Opposition benches. I had hoped for a slightly hung parliament so that the minor parties would have a chance of influencing Starmer but most of them have the same hangups as Labour so nothing to gain there.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago

‘enery the eighth, I am. says Sunak just like his oppo Fat Shanks…

Hide your valuables, Imams!

T Cromwell MP for Warminster wants to turn them into swords…

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
26 days ago

The Tories are lying as usual. The money for this off the hoof National Service political stunt is coming out of the scrapping of the Shared Prosperity Fund that replaced our EU funding. I remember another lie told back in 2916 with Brexit. And how that treacherous muppet from Monmouth David TC Davies said how Wales will not lose one penny of EU funding but in fact would get more money if we voted to leave. This is a desperate act by a English prime minister and corrupt Conservative party in its deaththrows of power and as usual Wales suffers… Read more »

Riki
Riki
26 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Yeah, the UK and how it operates is probably the least democratic “nation” in the west! Brexit itself is proof of that, The moment Scotland voted remain and England didn’t, that should have been the end of the UK!

Elaine
Elaine
26 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Not only Davies but Cairns too:

https://nation.cymru/news/alun-cairns-eu-funding-brexit/

A very generous description of Mr Davies btw!

Why vote
Why vote
26 days ago

Have you met young people of today,? They have no interest in getting out of bed before 10 then straight on the Internet and play joking solder for 16 hours then back to bed. Or off protesting about whatever pronouns, trees, frogs, mud. Do you think they will listen to the powers that be when they could be at a festival. This will never happen they just won’t turn up.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
26 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

You sound just like the old Monty Python sketch: “When I were a lad…”

jimmy
jimmy
26 days ago

I guess if you are going to lecture other EU leaders to spend more on defence / NATO, you had better make a few token gestures to look convincing ?

Riki
Riki
26 days ago

People of Wales should not accept this farce! We shouldn’t be letting our sons and daughters die for the advancement of Anglo Saxon Goals. Russia isn’t an enemy of Wales! China isn’t an enemy of Wales! History says there is only one people who have had it in for us for over a thousand years! And it’s neither of those.

Jeff
Jeff
26 days ago

Forced labour from youngsters in area’s they have absolutely gutted service’s and keep the daily heil readers happy.

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