Plaid Cymru MP introduces Bill calling for the devolution of post-EU funds to Wales
Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake will today introduce a Bill to Parliament calling for the devolution of the Shared Prosperity Funds to Wales and for a new focus on the cost-of-living crisis.
The Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto promised a replacement for EU funds that would be “fairer and better tailored to our economy”, but just over two years on, Ben Lake has criticised the UK Government’s “lack of a clear strategic focus” and “disjointed projects that tinker around the edges.”
Over the next three years, the Welsh budget will be close to £1bn worse off as a result of the UK Government not honouring its commitment to fully replace EU funds, the Welsh Government has said.
A day ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement on Wednesday, Ben Lake said that the funds should be devolved to Wales and used to address the cost-of-living crisis and to “deliver genuinely transformational programmes” starting with a “wholesale” home retrofitting programme.
“The Conservative Party promised in 2019 to replace EU regional funding with a programme that is ‘fairer and better tailored to our economy’,” he said. “So far, however, the amount of funding allocated to this end has failed to match the promise of the UK Government’s ‘levelling-up’ rhetoric.
“Just as worrying is the lack of a clear strategic focus, and an approach that brings communities, local authorities and the Welsh Government together to address the challenges Wales faces.
“Through my Ten-Minute Rule Bill, Plaid Cymru is advocating devolving the Shared Prosperity Fund to the Welsh Government, a government which is better placed to deliver tangible improvements to people’s lives due to existing, well-established patterns of cooperation with local authorities.”
The Bill is supported by Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat and an independent MP.
The UK Government has briefed that Rishi Sunak could use his Spring statement to raise the rate at which workers start paying national insurance in order to ease the burden on the low paid. Most workers currently start paying NI when their income hits £9,568.
However, No 10 have said that the Chancellor would be unable to offset fully the huge rises in inflation and fuel costs.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Obviously the Government cannot deal with all of the challenges when they come on a global scale.”
The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has said that an energy efficiency programme delivered with funding by the UK and Welsh governments could save households up to £613 per year on energy bills.
Ben Lake said that the Shared Prosperity Fund should be used to deliver such a programme.
“Rather than disjointed projects that tinker around the edges, Plaid Cymru is calling for the ‘levelling up’ funds to be used to deliver genuinely transformational programmes, starting with wholesale improvements to energy efficiency by funding retrofit measures, combating both the climate crisis and the cost-of-living crisis,” he said.
“The Welsh Future Generations Commissioner calculated that such investment could save people up to £613 per year on energy bills. Given the urgency of the crisis facing thousands of households, I urge the UK Government to seriously consider supporting my Bill today.”
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