Race now on to ensure the poorest access Levelling Up cash
published on 1 Feb 2022
Many of England’s most deprived communities have yet to see any Levelling Up cash even though nearly half the £4 billion* funding pot has already been spent, according to The Salvation Army.
This includes five of the country’s ten poorest areas – Blackpool, Knowsley, Barking & Dagenham, Hackney and Sandwell.
As the Government prepares to publish its Levelling Up White Paper, The Salvation Army’s new analysis of funding allocation so far shows that:
- Just 20 per cent of the 105 successful bids came from coastal towns in England and 13 per cent from rural areas.
- Most of the funding has gone to infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges in urban areas.
Coastal and rural areas typically rely on poorly paid seasonal work trapping entire communities in poverty. The Salvation Army believes Levelling Up investment should help develop local labour markets in areas that rely heavily on low skilled and low paid seasonal work or in shrinking industries.
The Church and Charity is calling on the Government to rethink how need is calculated to ensure that the remaining bids focus investment on areas with people who are desperate for training and stable job opportunities.
The Salvation Army’s Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant said: “The people who come to our food banks, debt and employment advice services want to work but are often held back by things beyond their control. Poorly paid seasonal work, lack of access to affordable childcare or just no opportunity to retrain when a large local employer shuts, can trap people and entire areas in deprivation. The Levelling Up fund is a chance to invest in the thousands of people that don’t want a handout but a hand up.
“We are on the ground in hundreds of communities and know the need is great across the country. We are not criticising where funding has been allocated so far. However, with almost half the funding already spent, we are asking the Government to focus what money is left on those areas with the highest level of deprivation.
“The commitment to Level Up is a bold Government policy, but an equal playing field means reaching out to those desperate for help to make a better life for themselves and their children. Without funding, these communities will fall even deeper into social deprivation.”
The Salvation Army is calling for the Government to:
- Reconsider how funding is allocated from the Levelling Up Fund, 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.
- Invest in skills and employment support to help individuals out of low-skill, low-wage employment.
- Engage with communities to identify what investment will best ‘Level Up’ their areas.
The Salvation Army works in some of the poorest communities across the UK running foodbanks, providing shelter to the homeless and helping people to find work and manage their debts.
*The Levelling Up Fund was announced in 2020 and is worth £4.8 billion, with £4 billion of this to be spent in England and £0.8 billion to be spent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.