William Eichler 03 March 2021

Budget 2021: Chancellor confirms £4.8bn ‘levelling up fund’

Budget 2021: Chancellor confirms £4.8bn ‘levelling up fund’ image

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the first round of the £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund will be available to local areas to help tackle regional inequalities.

Mr Sunak’s Budget aims to deliver on the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto commitment to invest more in northern constituencies with the aim of closing the economic gap between the North and the South.

In today’s Budget, which was formulated against the backdrop of the pandemic, he emphasised the importance of ‘redrawing our economic map’ and changing the country’s ‘economic geography’.

To this end, he confirmed that the first round of the levelling up fund, which was announced at the last Spending Review, will be available for local areas to submit bids for the first round of funding starting in 2021-22.

The Treasury will make £4bn available for England and £800m for communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In his foreword to the Levelling Up Fund Prospectus, Mr Sunak wrote: 'While the Fund is open to every local area, it is especially intended to support investment in places where it can make the biggest difference to everyday life, including ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and coastal communities.’

He continued: ‘It is also designed to help local areas select genuine local priorities for investment by putting local stakeholder support, including the local MP where they want to be involved, at the heart of its mission. Local areas across the UK share similar needs, so the Fund will be delivered in partnership with local areas across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.’

Mr Sunak’s promise of a multi-million-pound fund to tackle regional inequality has been criticized by the think tank IPPR North as being too much of a centralised fix which forces combined and local authorities to go to the Government ‘cap in hand’.

Writing in The MJ yesterday, IPPR North’s director Sarah Longlands explained that the North-South divide had been exacerbated by a decade of austerity and the pandemic, and today’s announcements were ‘eye catching’ but fall short.

‘The reality is that whilst these announcements may be eye catching, it will be the profits of institutional investors that will be levelled up rather than the people who live in these areas,’ she warned.

Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, cautioned that the Budget will be judged on what happens in the aftermath of the lockdown.

‘Last year there was much talk of a modern day “Marshall Plan” to target investment where it was most needed and would deliver the greatest growth dividends,’ he said.

‘So in this context, the recovery will succeed or fail in how efficiently and directly these cash pots – whether the £5bn high street fund, the new wave of town deals, the Levelling Up or UK Shared Prosperity funds – are parcelled out to local delivery agents and put to immediate good use in restoring place prosperity.’

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Assistant Director - Prevention and Service Development

North Yorkshire County Council
£86,252- £98,275 plus relocation support (up to £8,000)
Come and Join Team North Yorkshire! County Hall and around the county, including from home
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Principal Transport Development Planner

Suffolk County Council
£39,759 per annum (pro rata if part time)
A great opportunity to join the Suffolk County Council's Transport Strategy Team as a Principal Transport Development Planner. Suffolk County Council, Ipswich IP1 2BX
Recuriter: Suffolk County Council

Senior Manager - Asset and Network

Cheshire West & Chester
£56,593 - £62,792
This is a brand-new role developed out of our vision for the future of the recently established Transport and Highways directorate. Chester, Ellesmere Port, Winsford
Recuriter: Cheshire West & Chester

Provider Development Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
£50,183 - £58,379 plus relocation support (up to £8,000)
Come and Join Team North Yorkshire! County-wide – Hybrid
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Head of Integrated Care

North Yorkshire County Council
£60,567 - £69,001 plus relocation support (up to £8,000)
Come and Join Team North Yorkshire! North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.