A BBC report today ahead of Panorama tonight has shown that 18 councils covering some of the most deprived areas in the country, and on the Government’s top priority list, have had their applications for Levelling Up funding rejected.
Levelling Up Bids
Currently Councils must apply for the chance of receiving limited Levelling Up funds. The BBC submitted freedom-of-information requests to councils in the 100 most deprived places in England and found that 28 councils that had applied were rejected. 38 had their bids accepted and 34 did not submit a bid.
The next round of bids will be sent out from the end of May. Michael Gove has said that his department will be deploying Levelling Up directors, recruited from deprived areas to help councils write their bids.
The Government has been criticised for making councils bid against each other, with former government economist Nicola Headlam saying “A beauty contest around who gets the money, that’s not really how I would do it”.
With UK inflation now running at over 6%, with larger spikes in fuel and heating prices, Michael Gove said: “Unless we stick to those missions, then the cost of living issues that we face at the moment will deepen inequality”.
With a small budget and questions hanging over implementation, Levelling Up is off to a slow start. The Government may well be rightly distracted by the cost-of-living crisis and Ukraine but they will be judged by their performance on this issues as senior Conservatives know only too well.
With the date of the next election now within sight the Government is running out of time to deliver on it’s signature issue. The Queen’s speech on Tuesday will be a significant barometer of how committed the Government is to the Levelling Up agenda.