Dover and Deal must get a share of the funding the UK takes control of after Brexit and decide how it is spent.
Around £2.15 billion of structural funding will be available when the UK leaves the EU – and the Government has committed to creating a UK Shared Prosperity Fund as a replacement. But Kent County Council has raised concerns that northern and midland towns could be prioritised, similar to the approach taken for the existing Stronger Towns Fund. I have approached ministers at the Treasury to request that Dover and Deal gets its fair share of the cash – and has a say on how it is spent.
It’s great news that we will have far greater control over how we spend our money after Brexit. That’s why it’s vital that we leave the EU, deal or no deal, as soon as possible. But I want to ensure that Dover and Deal gets a significant share. For too long this country has worked for the big cities and forgotten the towns and villages of our regions. The Brexit vote was about substantial change in how we do things. That’s why I’m making the case that Dover and Deal must be included in the financial settlement – and that we get a real say over how it is spent.
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be set up to “tackle inequalities between communities by raising productivity, especially in those parts of our country whose economies are furthest behind”. In the event of a negotiated withdrawal from the EU, the new Fund would come into effect when the transition period ends, expected to be in December 2020. In a no-deal Brexit, the Treasury has promised to underwrite the funds that would have come from the EU.
It’s crucial to build on all the recent investment in Dover and Deal. We have a new shopping and cinema complex, record investment in both seafronts, a new leisure centre, both hospitals safeguarded. And we have just made the shortlist for major funding for a bridge over the A20. But there are so many more things we can do – new roads, a full fibre broadband rollout, and so much more. It’s vital that we get a share of this money, so we can keep building a brighter future for Dover and Deal. And it’s vital that local people decide how we do it.