UK Government ‘funnelling’ money from poorer Welsh areas into Tory constituencies claims Plaid candidate
A Plaid Cymru candidate has claimed that the UK Government is “funnelling” money from poorer Welsh areas into Tory constituencies.
Delyth Jewell, who is standing in Caerphilly in the Senedd election, said the town and surrounding area was missing out on essential funds as a result.
The UK Treasury has so far refused requests from the Welsh Government and the media to release the calculations they made in deciding which 100 priority groups to include as part of a regional aid scheme meant to replace EU funding.
Delyth Jewell said she had now written to the UK Government to demand that the case for Caerphilly’s inclusion in the £220m Community Renewal Fund be re-examined and that they publish the calculations behind their decisions.
“The Tories’ decision to exclude Caerphilly from the Community Renewal Fund isn’t just unjust: it’s unjustifiable,” Delyth Jewell said.
“Particularly given their promise to replace every penny of EU funding Wales would lose due to Brexit, and the fact that there’s clear and incontrovertible evidence that Caerphilly should have been included as a priority area.
“Their method for choosing which areas to prioritise were based on a series of indicators with the main one of these being productivity.
“My team analysed the productivity data, as published by the Office of National Statistics, and found that 35 places included on the list were in areas with higher productivity than Caerphilly.
“Out of these 35, 22 contained constituencies with Tory MPs, 10 contained red wall seats they won in 2019, a further 8 had Tory Ministers and least surprising of all, Hartlepool is included, where a key byelection that the Tories hope to win is imminent.
“To put this into context, Hartlepool has a productivity rating of 96.5% of the UK average, whereas the Caerphilly area’s productivity rating is 83.9%.”
‘Hung out to dry’
Delyth Jewell said that the statistics showed that:
- 35 out of the 100 areas included on the UK Government priority list had higher productivity than the area containing Caerphilly (productivity being the weightiest metric in determining which areas to include)
- Out of these 35, 22 had Tory MPs, 10 included “red wall seats” they won in 2019 and 8 included Tory Ministers
- 11 of the areas with suspiciously high productivity (over 90% of the UK average) had Tory MPs, compared with 5 that didn’t – with Hartlepool, where a key byelection is imminent, also included
Delyth Jewell said: “Caerphilly should score highly on other indicators the UK Government claimed they used as well, such as household income. The average annual household income in Caerphilly is £15,339 per head which is substantially lower than the UK average of £21,109 and lower than every single English region.
“Given that the Tories have so far refused to publish their calculations for working out the priority areas to target this funding, the conclusion that many people will draw is that these decisions are made using political rather than mathematical calculations, hanging places like Caerphilly out to dry.
“I have written to the UK Government to demand that they recalculate the metrics for Caerphilly to ascertain whether our area has been excluded unfairly and to make their calculations public. If they refuse to do so, I will lead calls for a public inquiry into the fund’s handling and explore possible avenues for legal action.”
What have others said?
Labour Caerphilly MP Wayne David had previously said that: “The Conservative Government in Westminster is giving resources to well-off areas, where Rishi Sunak [the UK Chancellor] just happens to be the MP, and deliberately excluding needy areas like the Caerphilly Borough.
“This new fund is supposed to be compensating places like Caerphilly, which are losing European funding. Despite its promises, the Tory Government is helping areas which are clearly already well-off, at the expense of areas like the Caerphilly Borough, which are in much greater need of support.”
Robert Jenrick MP, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, had said that said “investment from EU Structural Funds will continue to be spent by local areas until 2023 and this government has committed to at least matching EU receipts through the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, on average reaching around £1.5 billion a year.
“This new Fund, to be launched in 2022, will operate throughout the UK and play a part in uniting and levelling up the whole country.”
Caerphilly is currently represented by the Labour candidate Hefin David.
The candidate are:
Delyth Jewell – Plaid Cymru
Hefin David – Labour
Stephen Jones – Abolish the Assembly
Steve Aicheler – Liberal Democrats
Steven Mayfield – Conservatives
Tim Price – Reform UK