ALMOST £800 million will be given to Wales as part of the UK Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ bill.
In the draft white paper draft released on Wednesday the UK Government outlined how £790 million will be given to four regions across Wales to help fund city and growth projects.
- It will see £500 million invested in the Cardiff Capital Region to support a new Fintech development strategy and a challenge fund to aim to rebuild local wealth.
- Swansea Bay will get £115 million to help with constructing Swansea’s waterfront digital district, floating offshore wind at Pembroke Dock Marine test sites and full-fibre broadband across the area.
- North Wales will be given £120 million for projects in advanced manufacturing, low carbon energy and digital infrastructure.
- Mid Wales will see £55 million for digital connectivity, applied research and innovation, energy and skills projects.
The first round of Levelling Up funds will see ten projects receive a share of £121 million. These include building Porth Transport Hub, dualling part of the A4119 at Coed-Ely and creating a 20km walking and cycling route in the Tywi Valley between Carmarthen and Llandeilo.
A disused section of the Montgomery Canal between Llanymynech and Arddleen will be revitalised and the 11-mile Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage site will be enhanced.
Haverfordwest Castle will become an all-weather attraction with the funding while the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd will be reopened.
The Old College and Marina in Aberystwyth will be regenerated and there will be new hubs for health, education and employment opportunities in Carmarthen and Pembroke.
Brecon will see investment to allow the redevelopment of the Theatr Brycheiniog Arts Centre and the creation of a new multi-agency hub. In Llandrindod Wells, derelict land will be revitalised to support affordable, energy efficient housing.
The plan also says the UK Government will work closely with the Welsh Government on a range of policies to drive tangible change in places and improve life chances.
In the document, the UK Government has said that they will continue to increase the national living wage to help with the disparities across the UK. Key decision makers in government roles will also move into Cardiff – along with a number of other cities – to allow for them to be closer to where they serve.
Police and crime commissioners and local authorities will also get a share of £50 million every year to help combat crime and anti-social behaviour.
What is the Levelling Up plan for?
The Levelling Up plan aims to see all parts of the UK as close to equal as they can be and to shrink the geographical disparities. According to the paper, Wales’ gross disposable household income per capita in 2019 was 20 per cent below the average in the UK, the highest of the regions. It also shows how Wales’ employment rate between 2004 and 2020 varied between 54-58 per cent, with only the North East of England being lower.
The UK Government aims to have pay, employment and productivity rise in every area of the UK by 2030, and the gap between the top performing and other areas to close.
The document says: ”Levelling up requires mobilising previously underutilised sources of capital. That is why we’re using the tax system to incentivise private sector investment, through Freeports, Enterprise Zones and the Super-deduction.
“It is also why the prime minister and chancellor have called on the UK’s institutional investors to seize the moment for an ‘Investment Big Bang’ to boost Britain’s long-term growth. The UK Government will go further and work with Local Government Pension Funds to publish plans for increasing local investment, including setting an ambition of up to five per cent of assets invested in projects which support local areas.
“Levelling up is a long-term endeavour. It is a programme of change that requires a fundamental shift in how central and local government, the private sector and civil society operate.
“The UK Government will embark on a process of sustained and systematic engagement and consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including devolved administrations, on the White Paper. We will be setting out further detail on a number of these policy commitments in future publications. In addition, we will introduce legislation to Parliament to underpin in statute the changes fundamental to levelling up, alongside wider planning measures.
“This White Paper is the catalyst for delivering a long-term programme of change to unlock the potential of people and places in every part of the UK. This will create jobs, drive productivity, improve people’s quality of life and help restore their pride in the places where they live.”