Levelling-up funds ‘will not help poorest’

Levelling-up funds ‘will not help poorest’

More than a third of England’s most deprived areas will not benefit from the Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, according to new Salvation Army research.

The report, Understanding People, Understanding Places, identified that while The Government prioritised 93 areas to be given access to ‘Levelling Up’ funding but our report identified a further 45 in urgent need of investment.

Salvation Army analysis shows a number of coastal areas around the country, including in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, the East of England and the South West, that should be high priority but were missed out of the Government’s calculations.

The Fund is part of the government’s broader offer to level up opportunity across the UK, including supporting employment.

The Salvation Army research analysed the local labour market in comprehensive detail. The report details that The Government’s analysis of need was mainly based on unemployment figures, whereas The Salvation Army highlights how zero hours contracts, seasonal employment and shrinking traditional industries prevent people from finding stable and skilled employment.

The Church and Charity is warning that unless the Government rethinks how it calculates an area’s need, entire communities will be locked out of Levelling Up Funding and left to spiral into further poverty.

The Government broke England down into 315 areas of which 93 were deemed a priority for funding. The Salvation Army broke the areas down into 345 areas and prioritised 116 areas as in most need of investment.

As part of the Levelling Up Agenda and upcoming White Paper in the autumn, Government will be investing further funds into Local Authorities in the priority areas.  However, the Government has yet to set out exactly when and how that will happen. The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to rethink how need is calculated to ensure that when the funding allocation process starts, investment is made in areas with the most need and invested in sustainable projects that will help people and communities to move out of poverty.

Rebecca Keating, The Salvation Army’s Director of Employment Services, said: “The £4.8 billion earmarked for Levelling Up is a bold move by the Government and an opportunity to lift thousands out of unemployment but we are worried that this investment is missing many key areas in serious decline.

“As well as analysing employment and income data, we talked to people to find out first-hand what people needed. Many people told us they have been stuck in low-skill seasonal jobs, which are now at risk following the pandemic but they are too old to easily access training courses to reskill. One of the most common issues are single parents faced with jobs offering wages that don’t cover the cost of their childcare.”

The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to reconsider how funding is allocated from the Levelling Up Fund, with coastal communities being recognised as an investment priority, and invest in skills and employment support; to help individuals out of low-skill, low-wage employment.

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