The Community Renewal Fund Scandal

An explainer by Delyth Jewell

Caerphilly residents may have seen posts from me on Facebook or stories in the press about my campaign to secure fair funding for Caerphilly.  I thought it may be useful for people who are interested if I explained all the facts in one place.

The Community Renewal Fund (CRF) is one of the UK Government’s schemes meant to replace EU funding. Wales received a lot of EU funding in the past, and the Tories promised us we wouldn’t be a “penny worse off” after leaving the EU, since they’d replace all the money.  But they’ve broken this promise.  Caerphilly has been left out of the scheme.

The UK Government website explains the factors they claim they considered when decided which 100 areas would be prioritised for receiving investment from the CRF. They include: a) Productivity; b) Skills; c) Unemployment Rate; d) Population Density; e) Household Income.

The UK Government’s website also says that the data used to decide which areas to prioritise for the CRF “should be publicly available, so that the calculations behind our rankings are fully transparent”.

I wasn’t the only one who was shocked to learn that Caerphilly had been left out - the Western Mail was as well.  One of their journalists asked the UK Government to make public the calculations they did to decide which areas were the 100 most in need.  The UK Government refused.

So my team decided to do the sums ourselves.  They conducted meticulous research, based on the five criteria, to try to ascertain whether or not Caerphilly was indeed better off than the 100 areas that were included for prioritisation.

This is what they found about productivity, which was the weightiest factor taken into account according to the UK Government website, accounting for 30% of the overall calculation:

  • 35 out of the 100 areas included on the UK Government priority list had higher productivity than the area containing Caerphilly

  • Out of these 35, 22 had Tory MPs, 10 included “red wall seats” which the Tories won in 2019, and 8 included the seats of Tory Ministers

  • 11 of the areas with suspiciously high productivity (over 90% of the UK average) had Tory MPs, compared with 5 that didn’t. Also included was Hartlepool, where a key byelection is imminent

Of the other factors considered, Caerphilly scores very highly on the household income criteria – which yet again surely means that the area should have qualified for this fund.  The average household income per head in Caerphilly is £15,339 per year.  This is lower than the UK average of £21,109, and lower than every single English region.  

In terms of skills, which is measured according to the proportion of residents with no qualifications and the data for which is only collected on a national basis, the Welsh rate is 8.2% compared with 7.5% in England.

The Caerphilly score for the unemployment rate is average, and the score for population density is low, but the other three factors make up the bulk of the calculation and should definitely be enough to see this area included before some of the other more affluent areas that were.  Population density is clearly not a critical factor since Manchester is included, which has a population density of 4,735/km2 compared with Caerphilly’s 727/km2.

Given these facts, and that the UK Government is refusing to publish its calculations, the inescapable conclusion is surely that the Tories are funnelling money that is meant for areas like ours into their own constituencies or constituencies they hope to win at the next election: exactly what seems to have happened with school funding in England, the Town Fund and Facebook advertising (for more information about this, I've shared the links at the bottom of this blog).

I therefore wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities, Robert Jenrick MP, to ask him to recalculate the sums for Caerphilly, to see whether or not an error has been made and to ask for an explanation of how all these Tory areas were conveniently included when Caerphilly had been excluded.  If I receive a response, I will share it here.  If I am not satisfied, I will take further steps, including exploring the possibility of taking legal action.

What this sorry episode shows is that the Westminster Tories are being allowed to walk all over our communities because the Labour party has failed to stand up for them.

If you want an MS for Caerphilly that will stand up for our communities with strength and determination, I promise to do that if you elect me.  I will leave no stone unturned until this area receives the money it’s entitled to.

If you want to sign the petition calling for fair funding for Caerphilly, you can do so by clicking here.  If you’ve decided to vote for me - thank you.  It would be really useful if you would let me know by clicking here.

Useful Links

Previous concerns raised about Tory misuse of public funds:

  1. Town Fund: ‘Rishi Sunak hands 90% of £1bn new Towns Fund cash in Budget to Tory seats’ - Daily Mirror https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/rishi-sunak-hands-90-1bn-23603091
  2. School Funding: ‘Tory and marginal seats benefit most from PM's spending, data shows’ - BBC News https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49883367
  3. Facebook Adverts:’ Tories accused of using public funds for Facebook ads in key seats’ - Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/01/tories-accused-of-using-public-funds-for-ads-on-facebook-in-key-seats
  4. Levelling Up Fund: ‘Levelling Up Fund design is unlawful, says UK campaign group’ - Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/9757ad6d-45b8-4db5-95f8-2d236a670af7

Information about the Community Renewal Fund on the UK Government website, which states that a general principle for the allocation of the fund is that “data used should be publicly available, so that the calculations behind our rankings are fully transparent” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund-prospectus/uk-community-renewal-fund-prioritisation-of-places-methodology-note 


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