Lack of transparency on levelling up funding

The Government has been accused of drawing up rules that allow billions of pounds of levelling up funding to be handed to their favoured areas, in a cross-party report from MPs.

The Commons’ Public Accounts Committee found that the principles for successful awards on the first round of the UK-wide £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund were only finalised by ministers after they knew who, from the 170 shortlisted bidders, would win, and who would not, as a result of those principles.

The committee recommends that, in future, the principles for awarding funding must be determined before shortlisted bidders are disclosed to ministers.

The report also notes that councils have faced confusion over the different funding pots for local economic growth and have had to respond piecemeal to each new announcement over the years.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said that timely, sustainable funding for levelling up, including the full rollout of UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocations – alongside clear and measurable targets, as specified in the report – would go a long way to achieving local solutions to the challenges we face.

He said: “Turning levelling up from a political slogan into a reality will only be achieved if councils have the powers and funding they need.

“Competitive bidding for short-term, small pots of funding creates uncertainty and uses up vital resources in councils, which could be better spent on planning ahead for their communities.”

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