Towns Fund

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of James Wild James Wild Ceidwadwyr, North West Norfolk

What assessment he has made of the potential impact of the towns fund on local communities.

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

As part of their town investment plan, places were required to consult extensively with local communities and to evidence how this feedback shaped their plan. The impact of the towns fund on local communities is also a crucial part of the towns fund impact evaluation, to be published in early 2026.

Photo of James Wild James Wild Ceidwadwyr, North West Norfolk

One success of the towns fund is the breadth of projects, which in King’s Lynn include Shakespeare’s St George’s guildhall, a new community library and adult skills centre and a school of nursing studies. Can my hon. Friend confirm that the very welcome extra £20 million through the long-term plan for towns that Lynn has just been awarded can be used to complement those schemes as well as to secure other investment into the area?

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I thank my hon. Friend for his commitment to levelling up in King’s Lynn and across Norfolk. Our long-term plan for towns puts power back into the hands of local people. Each town must set up a new town board, comprised of local community representatives and the Members of Parliament for the respective area, who are responsible for developing the long-term plan for their area, underpinned by evidence of extensive community engagement. This plan can include the regeneration projects that my hon. Friend has mentioned, if that is considered a local priority. I look forward to working with him and to seeing the plans when they are finally brought forward.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Minister for his answers. He will recall that I asked some time ago about the Ards and North Down Council’s Whitespots project—a historical project for tourism that relates to the second world war and also to the history of mining in the area. The Minister said that when the Northern Ireland Assembly was up and running, he would be keen to ensure that the project could take place. Can he confirm that the moneys necessary for the project are there, and will he ensure that he, as Minister, does everything he can to make it happen?

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks, but I can say that the £30 million that was set aside for Northern Ireland in round 3 of the levelling-up fund has been given to the Northern Ireland Executive as part of the Executive reformation fund. I was in Northern Ireland over the recess, where we were celebrating more than £435 million of levelling-up funding going to Northern Ireland since 2019.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Employment Rights and Protections)

It is now approaching five years since the towns fund was launched, promising £3.6 billion of investment to level up the country. Most of it remains unspent, and the cross-party Public Accounts Committee has said that the Department for Levelling Up could not

“give any compelling examples of what had been delivered so far”.

That is a damning assessment of this five years of the fund, never mind after 14 years in power—so, Minister, why are this Government such a failure?

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I think that is quite poor, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman’s constituency has itself benefited from £11.1 million of UK shared prosperity funding and £13.4 million from the levelling up fund. Next to him I see Jim McMahon, whose constituency has benefited from £24.4 million from the towns fund. Oldham is also the recipient of £10.8 million from the future high streets fund. We are levelling up right across the country, including in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency.