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Southwark and other London authorities left behind in ‘Levelling Up’ Tory bias

11 March 2021

The Government’s new flagship Levelling Up Fund will prioritise the Chancellor’s own local authority, an affluent area ranked in the top fifth of most prosperous places in England by the Government’s own deprivation scale, for regeneration funding ahead of Southwark, ranked as the 43rd most deprived.
The Chancellor’s own local authority of Richmondshire, as well as the constituencies of four other members of the Cabinet, are prioritised to bid for Levelling Up Funding.

Newark and Sherwood, Pembrokeshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Great Yarmouth local authorities, which include the constituencies of the Chancellor, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, Scottish Secretary Allister Jack and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis respectively, were all included in the first tier of eligibility for priority funding, under plans announced by the Chancellor at the Budget.

Their areas were selected for funding ahead of authorities such as Southwark and Lambeth, despite both boroughs according to the Government’s own statistics having some of the highest levels of disadvantage in the country.   

The Government will put MPs at the centre of the bidding process for the Levelling Up Fund, leading to fears of a conflict of interest as Conservative Ministers funnel money away from areas with higher levels of need towards their own constituencies.

Labour has demanded the Government publish the metrics used to determine areas for priority funding. Bids will be determined by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The news follows months of controversy after a town in the Communities Secretary’s own constituency, Newark, was selected for funding as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund by the then communities minister Jake Berry, while Jenrick selected Darwen, in Berry’s constituency.

Ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will determine bids under a number of criteria.
Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council said:
“As we come out of this global and national crisis we need funding for every region, but it is crucial that it is done fairly and with a say for local communities. Instead the Government is pitting regions and nations against each other for money that should reach communities as a matter of course.

“Labour is calling on the government to invest in the public transport infrastructure, green energy, town centre renewal and innovation that will not just get our economy going again, but improve all of our lives and help tackle the climate emergency too.  This includes projects like the Bakerloo Line Extension that could unlock thousands of jobs and homes in Southwark.

“Piecemeal pots of funding do not make up for a decade of cuts to local communities: it just highlights this Government’s failure to bring prosperity to our cities and regions.”


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