Swansea finalising bid for second round of UK Government’s Levelling Up fund
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Swansea Council is putting the finishing touches to another bid for Levelling Up funding from the UK Government after missing out the first time round.
Projects in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are competing for £800m of Levelling Up money between 2021-2022 and 2024-2025.
Some councils, like Carmarthenshire, secured significant investment last financial year, but Swansea wasn’t successful.
Phil Holmes, Swansea’s head of planning and city regeneration, told a council committee that it was “in the throes of finalising” new Levelling Up project bids and the council had learned its lessons from the first tranche of funding.
“Hopefully we will be successful next time round,” he said.
Mr Holmes said the council was also writing an investment plan to unlock a reported £138m of separate Shared Prosperity Fund money over three years for Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
This plan will be submitted on August 1.
His comments about the Levelling Up and Shared Prosperity Fund money came in a meeting in which he outlined a new regional economic development plan for the next 10 years.
It aims to establish a prosperous and resilient South West Wales economy, and will shape projects and policies.
The new plan has three so-called missions: establishing South West Wales as a UK leader in renewable energy and the development of a “net zero” economy; expanding the region’s stock of businesses, creating stronger supply chains and driving forward technology adoption: and playing on the region’s quality of life and environment to attract talent and investment.
Mr Holmes said this quality of life and environment element was something he felt had been taken for granted, and it could encourage people who could work from home to Swansea from outside the area.
He said the new regional economic delivery plan had a “fluid” action plan attached to it. The plan will be overseen by a regional corporate joint committee.
Mr Holmes said projects put forward as part of the plan would not come cheap, so there was an eye from the outset on funding sources.
The plan has similar objectives to the city deal for the Swansea Bay City Region, which comprises the same four councils.
Cllr Stuart Rice, a member of the economy and infrastructure corporate development committee, said he believed there could opportunities for Swansea if it achieved “freeport” status.
Such status in Teeside, he said, had created 18,000 skilled jobs in that area in the last two years.
Cllr Rice also said major new projects in Swansea must not lead to record council borrowing.
The Shared Prosperity Fund is worth £2.6bn over three years. The UK Government has said it has been designed to “succeed and improve” on European Union structural funds.
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