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Shared prosperity? PM faces test on devolution pledge

THE Welsh Government has called on the UK government to support distinct regional investment plans to make future funding decisions closer to the people.

‘Not a penny less, not a power lost’ –- Counsel General Jeremy Miles today reminded the UK of their promise as the Welsh Government published its proposals on future regional investment in Wales to replace EU funds.

In 10 months’ time existing EU funding, worth £375 million each year, will tail off, and so the Welsh Government has been working closely with partners in Wales to prepare new arrangements for future regional investment.

Our new proposals, published today, are to support growth and inclusiveness throughout Wales, with four priority investment areas – business productivity and competitiveness, reducing income inequalities for people, healthier and more sustainable communities and the zero-carbon economy.

Jeremy Miles said, “For over 20 years, EU Structural and Investment funds delivered by the Welsh Government, with its partners, have created significant benefits to Wales, helping bring new and better jobs and giving people the skills to do them.

“Since the UK Government announced the idea of a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace EU funds more than two and half years ago, its actions have not lived up to of their promises to engage and consult with us on future arrangements. Even today, we are still awaiting details on how replacement funding will come to Wales and confirmation that the Welsh Government will retain the autonomy, in line with our devolution settlement to decide on how these funds will be spent in Wales.

“If the Prime Minister is genuine about upholding and strengthening the Union then respecting devolution, voted for twice by the people of Wales, will be one of the UK Government’s first tests.”

Minister for Finance, Rebecca Evans said, “With support of EU funding, we have seen major progress on skills, job creation, renewable energy, infrastructure, and investment in research and innovation. This has been achieved through genuine and strong partnerships with Welsh businesses, universities, local authorities, the third sector and wider public sector.

“There is a real opportunity to build on this work with our partners, and raise prosperity in every part of Wales through ongoing regional investment where funding decisions are made by the Welsh Government, not Westminster.

“Our consultation covers a set of proposals for investing replacement funding from the UK Government to build on the successful legacy of Welsh-managed EU funding, while also recognising that we approach the future with greater creativity and ambition to maximise the opportunities within Wales, the UK and globally.”

Proposals in the consultation include:

greater flexibility to integrate funding and projects with wider investments including UK-wide, private sector, and wider public sector funding;
empowering regions and local areas to develop their own distinctive strengths and opportunities, so they can innovate and link places and investments in new and imaginative ways;
the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act to be at the heart of our plans so the actions we take will leave a lasting positive legacy for our people and communities in decades to come, and;
equality and sustainability being key to our investment commitments.

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