The future of regional development funding in Wales: challenging the UK Government for clarity
On May 7, 2019 in Westminster, I took part in a key debate on the future of regional development funding in Wales post-Brexit.
Over the last 15 years, in the Upper Rhymney Valley, we have received £16 million from the EU in structural funds – payments from the European Regional Development Fund, an initiative designed to invest in the more deprived EU countries and regions.
Since these funding payments began, we’ve seen a range of projects across the Upper Rhymney Valley made possible with EU investment – such as the upgrade of the Rhymney Valley rail line, and the regeneration of New Tredegar.
Post-Brexit, this EU funding will gradually stop. Back in 2017, the UK Government announced a UK-managed ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ to replace it and promised to release details of this fund in 2018. It’s now two years on, and we still haven’t had the answers we desperately need.
I asked the Secretary of State for Wales about the fund in April and had little response, and in the debate in Parliament earlier this month I joined other Welsh MPs to call on the UK Government to provide clarity on how it will work, and how they will ensure that Wales doesn’t lose out after Brexit.
Campaigning to save free TV licences for over-75s
Over the past few weeks, I have been involved with the campaign to save free TV licences for people aged 75 and over. In my constituency of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, 6,121 people and 4,700 households currently benefit from this policy, introduced by the last UK Labour Government in 2002.
The current UK Conservative Government has passed the responsibility for the policy to the BBC, without providing the BBC with the corresponding money – this is a cruel example of the Government abdicating its responsibility and trying to pass the buck.
I’ve responded to the BBC consultation asking for the current policy to continue, and to urge the UK Government to protect free TV licences for over-75s.
Working to secure better access to cash in the Upper Rhymney Valley – an update
Dawn Bowden AM and I are continuing to work with LINK, the UK’s cash machines operator, to secure more free-to-use ATMs and better access to cash in our area. LINK is currently exploring options with us for free ATMs across the Upper Rhymney Valley. We will keep people updated as things progress.
On May 21, I spoke in a parliamentary debate on the future of access to cash in the UK. Lots of people in the Upper Rhymney Valley are reliant on cash in their everyday lives, and the UK Government must do more to improve access to cash.