UK Government pro-devolution and Welsh Government pro-centralisation claims Michael Gove
Michael Gove has claimed that it is the UK Government that is pro-devolution and the Welsh Government pro-centralising powers.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up pointed to the Welsh Government’s opposition to his decision to bypass them with funds and give money straight to councils.
Referring to local authorities in Wales, he said “it is striking how grateful they are that the UK Government are taking a pro-devolution, pro-decentralisation approach”.
“That is in stark contrast to the Welsh Assembly Government,” he said, who were “centralising power in Cardiff” and “not listening to the communities so well represented on these benches.”
Michael Gove had earlier been asked by Aberconwy MP Robin Millar for his reaction to the Welsh Government’s opposition to the way money from the Shared Prosperity Fund was being dispersed around the nations of the UK.
“My right honourable Friend will share my surprise to hear that the Welsh Labour Minister for the Economy wrote to all council leaders in Wales on 14 June saying: ‘Welsh government will not help deliver UK government programmes in Wales we consider to be flawed.’
“Will my right hon. Friend assure the residents of Aberconwy that such directions will not be allowed to frustrate the sharing of prosperity in Wales?” Robin Millar asked.
Michael Gove responded that he was “disappointed” with the Welsh Government’s reaction.
“Vaughan Gething is a nice guy but it is a mistake, when we are decentralising power and resources to local government in Wales, for the Welsh Government and the Senedd to take that position,” he said.
“It is vital that we work together in the interest of the whole United Kingdom. This Parliament has been clear about ensuring that funding is available to local government and councillors in Wales of every party.
“The Welsh Government’s approach does not serve Wales well.”
Earlier this month the Welsh Government said they had three complaints about the Shared Prosperity Fund:
- The UK Government’s failure to honour repeated pledges to replace, in full, EU funds for Wales, meaning an overall shortfall of more than £1.1bn (accounting for the loss of structural and rural funding, and inflation) by March 2025;
- The UK Government’s use of the UK Internal Market Act to forcibly take decisions in devolved areas and exclude the Welsh Government from a transparent process of joint decision making for the SPF, while bypassing the scrutiny of the Senedd;
- The prospectus’s methodology for financial allocations to Wales, which distributes money away from those areas where poverty is most concentrated.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said that he had written to the UK Government and “shared our disappointment”.
He added that the Welsh Government had only two weeks of “genuine discussion” on the matter, “despite us trying to engage with the UK Government over several years to share views on a model developed with Welsh partners and the OECD on how replacement EU funds should be spent in Wales”,
“I have therefore confirmed in writing to the UK Government that the Welsh Government is unable to endorse the approach the UK Government is taking on the SPF,” he said.
“This means, as we have consistently stated to the UK Government, that the Welsh Government will not deploy our own resources to implement UK Government programmes in Wales which we consider to be flawed and undermining of the devolution settlement.”
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