Local election candidates: “Let’s get Welsh rural communities levelled-up!” says CLA Cymru

As we approach local election polling day, candidates from all parties - and independents too - should speak-up for rural communities who seem to evade the benefit of regional funding
Rural landscape Wales

“Candidates seeking election on 5 May should speak-out calling for rural communities to benefit from government initiatives like Levelling Up and Wales’ regional growth deals,” says Nigel Hollett, Director CLA Cymru. “The major schemes are barely touching the ground in Wales’ rural communities. As the local government elections approach, candidates of all kinds can look to shed light and clarity and make these schemes really deliver for often-forgotten countryside communities. Here we have a real need to improve the balance of investment which disadvantages rural areas versus our urban hubs.”

“Earlier this year the UK Government initiated its Levelling Up initiative to change the UK’s economic geography and narrow gaps of regional inequality including areas of Wales which have experienced little economic investment. In the 2021-2 financial year Wales received £153 million, less than half the sum it received the year before – placing strain on the system for bids and creating grounds for unwelcome and distracting dispute between the two governments. Similarly, we’ve seen the £110m Mid Wales Growth Deal – planned to deliver up to 1,400 new jobs and a regional uplift of up to £700m gross value added (GVA).”

“We’re yet to hear how this potentially economic life-giving injection really can reach the many thousands of Welsh rural enterprises looking to invest and expand bringing valuable, secure jobs and vital investment into local communities. They’re confronted with a fog of confusion, red-tape and delay when they seek to tap-in to resources earmarked for development.”

Nigel says, “Brexit means that EU funding’s gone, but resources from the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) continue to be distributed for the time being. This is to be replaced by the Shared Prosperity Fund. Here UK, Welsh Government and local government must work together to create a smooth-running machine to distribute the benefit where it’s needed most.”