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Latest levelling up funds go to less deprived areas as well as Wales and the south

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced the allocation of over £200m of UK Community Renewal Funds (UKCRF) yesterday to 477 projects, with less than a quarter of this funding going to the most deprived areas and nearly a quarter to projects in Wales. The UKCRF sits alongside the Levelling Up Fund and the Community Ownership Fund as part of the government’s levelling up investment strategy. Analysis of the data by the Centre for Inequality and Levelling Up at the University of West London shows that of the 172 bids that went to English County or City Councils:

  • 23% of bids and 21% of funding went to areas in the bottom 20% in terms of the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD);
  • 63% of bids and 66% of funds went to areas in the top 50% of IMD rankings;
  • None of the county councils (as opposed to City councils), except Durham county council, that received funding are in the bottom 50% of IMD rankings;
  • 23% of the overall funding went to projects in Wales while in England the regions that received the most funding were the south east with £22.7m, the south west with £20.4m and the East Midlands with nearly £19.9m. London received only £3.8m of funding – less than 2% of all funding;
  • The area in England where the most projects were funded was Norfolk with 14 and the county/city council area receiving the largest amount of money was Devon with £9.34m.

In contrast to last week’s £1.7bn Levelling Up Fund (for more details on how these funds were allocated see our briefing paper here) the projects funded were smaller and more focused on education, training/employment and community development. UKCRF funding is also focused far more in the south west/east with the percentage of funding allocated to projects in the north west falling from 13.79% through the Levelling Up Fund to 7% in the UKCRF. The percentage of funding allocated to Wales was much higher than in the Levelling Up Fund – the allocation across nations through the UKCRF was a Ministerial decision. To an even greater extent than the funds allocated via the Levelling Up Fund much of this funding allocated to England is allocated to less deprived county and city councils. A fuller breakdown of allocations by region and IMD can be found here.

The Centre for Inequality and Levelling Up (CILUP) was launched in July 2021. It aims to produce policy relevant research related to place and other dimensions of social inequality. The Head of the Centre Professor Graeme Atherton stated that:

‘This analysis shows that the latest tranche of levelling up funding while supporting important and worthwhile projects may risk missing the most deprived communities and who benefits from them needs monitoring closely. It is also notable many projects are being funded in the south of England and Wales consistent with the government’s ambition to address inequality across the whole country, but London despite having so many people living in poverty receives a very small amount of funding’.

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