With ASKAR SHEIBANI
CEO, Comtek Network Systems UK and chair, DBF
When the UK was part of the European Union, Welsh Government used to receive money directly from the EU and then distribute it all around Wales.
However, most businesses in North Wales were not happy with the way the Welsh Government distributed the EU Structural Funds, and believed the North did not receive its fair share.
As part of exiting the EU, the UK Government promised to replace the EU Structural Funds with direct payment to all regions of the UK. This new fund is called the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The UK Government has allocated £2.6billion as the UKSPF to be distributed to all regions of the UK, mainly via local councils. The UK Government believes the local authorities are better placed to know what the local priorities are.
Understandably, the Welsh Government is not happy with this situation as they believe this decision by the UK Government has taken away the devolved decision-making power that they used to have in the past.
However, the reality is that all councils in Wales have been allocated a Shared Prosperity Fund. Flintshire, for being one of the most prosperous counties, has been allocated £13million. This is almost 50% less money than its neighbouring counties.
All North Wales councils are now busy consulting their local stakeholders in order to come up with investment plans for their own counties and submit them by August 1 to the UK Government. This is going to be a very challenging time for all the councils throughout the UK.
The business community must actively get involved and support our councils in North Wales to develop robust and financially viable and credible investment plans for our local authorities.
The DBF had already met with some of the local businesses and will support our local councils. This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to come up with ideas that will help our economic growth. The investment plan is for 2022 to 2025, and the money will be in the councils’ bank accounts in October 2022.
North Wales has a strong well-established business community. We have some world-leading companies in the region. Our businesses have shown their resilience throughout the pandemic.
We have great expertise within our local community to come up with ideas which will utilise these funds to help us create a greater environment for business and economic growth.
We need to act urgently to engage with our local councils to start the conversation on discussing the business priorities.
You are also welcome to write to us at the DBF (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your suggestions and ideas. We have a great opportunity to shape our region’s economic fortune, let’s go for it.