Solely 10% of UK levelling up funds spent, say MPs

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for freeRoula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favorite tales on this weekly e-newsletter.Simply 10 per cent of the cash meant to regenerate native areas within the UK beneath the federal government’s levelling up programme has been spent to this point, a parliamentary spending watchdog has warned.The Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities couldn’t present “any compelling examples of what had been delivered to this point”, in accordance with a report revealed by the Home of Commons public accounts committee on Friday. By December 2023, Whitehall had supplied just a little over a 3rd of the obtainable £10.47bn to councils, it concluded.Committee chair Dame Meg Hillier referred to as the delays “completely astonishing”. She added that “the overwhelming majority” of tasks that secured funding early on “at the moment are being delivered late”, with additional setbacks possible “baked in”.The committee scrutinised the progress of the Levelling Up Fund, Cities Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund since 2020. The pots comprise £10.47bn for financial improvement tasks, as a part of the federal government’s drive to slender regional socio-economic divides.It discovered simply 64 of extra 1,100 tasks have to this point been completed, whereas greater than 80 per cent of these due for completion this month will miss that deadline.Of the £3.7bn that had been allotted, solely £1.24bn — or 10 per cent — had truly been spent.  It additionally recognised current makes an attempt by the division to guage the programme’s success however stated it was “involved it has no long-term plans to measure the impacts” of the funds.Whereas the federal government has blamed the Covid pandemic and inflation for delays throughout the programmes, MPs criticised their design and warned Whitehall had prioritised supposedly “shovel prepared” tasks that had subsequently turned out to be extra complicated. The funds have lengthy attracted criticism for overly centralising financial improvement expenditure and inserting pointless burdens on councils going through a sustained funding squeeze. Three quarters of greater than 800 council purposes to the primary spherical of the Levelling Up Fund have been rejected, with every bid costing a mean of £30,000, in accordance with the Native Authorities Affiliation, the physique that represents native authorities in England and Wales.The division has since taken steps to simplify the programme for councils, however the committee discovered there was “extra to do”. Profitable venture bids have additionally grappled with the influence of inflation, notably within the development sector, in addition to supply-chain shortages, that means the federal government has prolonged many supply deadlines. The levelling up division, which oversees the programme, appeared to have been “blinded by optimism” in funding tasks that have been removed from “shovel prepared”, Hillier stated.The levelling up division has been contacted for remark.

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