Government must level up coastal and rural areas

published on 27 Oct 2021

The Salvation Army has warmly welcomed the announcement of Government funding for vulnerable renters but warns more needs to be done to for many coastal and rural towns still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.

The increase in people using our food bank services is an early warning that lots of families are struggling, many Salvation Army corps are reporting.

The Church and Charity is calling on the Government to ensure those living in the most deprived areas of the country are not forgotten in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and Autumn budget.

Rebecca Keating, The Salvation Army’s Director of Employment Services, explains: “Our foodbanks are busy with people choosing between making rent or eating a proper meal and so we are delighted that the Government has announced they intend to help people facing homelessness.

“Salvation Army community services like food parcel deliveries, school uniform banks and drop in support means our Corps officers see in real time how thousands of people are struggling to make ends meet.  A secure roof over their heads is definitely key starting point to support these people and so we are glad the Government are beginning to address how vulnerable many renters are.  

However, while protecting renters facing homelessness is urgently needed, this measure helps a person at the point of crisis. The Government’s Levelling Up agenda is about helping entire communities have access to the jobs and opportunities to prevent them being unable to pay rent or feed their family in the first place. We have yet to see this properly addressed as part of the spending review.

“Our research shows that more than a third of England’s most deprived areas will not benefit from the Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up agenda.1 In particular while coastal and rural areas feature some of the highest levels of deprivation, these are also the areas most likely to miss out on Levelling Up investment.”

The Salvation Army is calling for:

•       Reconsider how funding is allocated from the Levelling Up agenda, with coastal communities being recognised as an investment priority.

•        Develop a new plan of investment to fund childcare so that parents can access work and training opportunities. Recommendations include extending 30 hours per week of free childcare to 52 weeks, extending business rates relief for nurseries and providing additional childcare services to parents whose children benefit from the school Pupil Premium grant.

•        Engage with communities to identify what investment will best ‘Level Up’ these areas. 

•        Invest in skills and employment support; to help individuals out of low-skill, low-wage employment.

Rebecca Keating continued: “We know that people are stuck in low-skilled seasonal jobs with little opportunity to access training to reskill. Many single parents are struggling with wages not covering the cost of childcare.

“Every day we work with people who are finding themselves suddenly out of work due to business closures, or who are trapped in zero hour contracts and low paid seasonal work, we hope the CSR addresses some of these needs.”

The report, Understanding People, Understanding Places was the biggest social mapping exercise in The Salvation Army’s recent history.