Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced the allocation of funds from the Levelling Up Fund during the Autumn Budget last month.
With the initiative aimed at tackling regional inequality, around £1.7 billion in funding has finally been allocated from the £4.8 billion promised in 2019 to “level up” all regions nationwide.
A total of 105 areas across the UK have been promised the funding after bidding for improvements to local areas – including investment in culture and heritage, transport improvements and infrastructure upgrades.
Why was this introduced?
Ahead of Prime Minister Johnson’s election in 2019, the Conservative Party finalised a proposal to address the wealth disparities across regions in the UK. While undertaking a study to measure living standards across Britain, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found extensive inequality across different areas of the country, and Mr Johnson’s government, as part of their bid for the election, promised to solve this with billions in funding.
When the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a standstill, the Levelling Up Fund was put on the backburner as a lessor priority. However, the pandemic only appeared to cause a further divide and the severe disparities between regions were highlighted even further.
The Autumn Budget, as presented by Sunak, highlighted a strong push for a return to financial normalcy – including bringing this initiative back to the forefront of the nation’s priorities.
Who does this affect?
The largest single grant has been presented to Derbyshire County Council for the South Derby growth zone and Infinity Garden Village, with the grant worth £49.6 million and expected to provide 4,750 new houses and 5,000 new jobs locally.
The Isles of Scilly have also been allocated £48 million to improve their connection with the English mainland. The funding will focus on restoring the harbours and replacing vessels as the islands rely heavily on sea transport to coexist with the mainland.
The third most substantial grant was provided to Renfrewshire Council, which was offered the largest grant outside of England, allocated for the purpose of funding their AMIDS South travel links improvement project.
The first 21 projects from the scheme will also benefit from £5.3 million of the £150 million community ownership fund, created to assist with managing and protecting key local assets.