In Parliament this week I joined fellow Welsh MPs in calling for clarity for the UK Government on the future Shared Prosperity Fund designed to replace current EU funding for nations and regions of the UK.
During a Westminster Hall debate led by Aberavon Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, Welsh MPs highlighted the importance of ensuring that Wales does not receive ‘a penny less’ under any new funding scheme. I also cited the twentieth anniversary of devolution in Wales in the debate, and reiterated the importance of ensuring that any new fund respects the devolution settlement and the role of the Welsh Government.
Wales currently receives £370 million a year from European investment and structural funds, which have helped create 45,000 jobs and 12,900 new businesses. We’ve also seen the benefits of this funding here in Gwent through employment and economic growth programmes like Inspire to Achieve and Inspire to Work which aim to reduce the number of young people not progressing into employment, education or training.
It’s vital that Wales does not lose out under any funding stream, and any new funding source should not undermine the devolution settlement. Replacement funding must flow directly to the Welsh Government and it must be for Wales to determine its use, just as EU funds currently come directly to Wales and Welsh Government Ministers determine how they are used.