On Monday (4 March) the government announced its ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ which it hailed as “a £1.6 billion fund to boost growth and give communities a greater say in their future after Brexit”. Most of the media’s coverage of this has focused on claims that this fund is in fact an attempt by the Prime Minister to bribe northern Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal. But Communities Secretary James Brokenshire claimed the money, including £1bn to be spent across England over a 7 year period, would have a ‘transformative’ impact on left behind regions.
Federalist Party leader Robert Jones responded: “This money is not going to produce any kind of positive benefit for the regions and communities of this country. It will be substantially less than what the regions already receive through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. On average it amounts to a 50% cut in funding. Not even a single penny is destined for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. On top of severe cuts in local government spending over the last years of austerity, this is going to leave many parts of the UK further behind than ever before as the wealthier cities are able to weather the worst impacts of economic turmoil and uncertainty.
“Worse still, the Stronger Towns Fund will funnel cash into unelected and unaccountable Local Enterprise Partnerships. Communities will have no say in how this money is distributed or spent locally.
“This is the same old story of Westminster giving with one hand whilst taking with the other. Our communities and regions are not being bribed, they are being robbed! They will be left poorer and further behind than ever before. We are left under no illusions about this government’s commitment to our communities and regions.”
The Federalist Party calls for genuine decentralisation to put real power in the hands of local communities and regions around the UK, not piecemeal devolution. Rather than depending on cash handouts from Westminster.