Over 100 projects were awarded a share of £2.1 billion from Round 2 of the Government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund today.
In response, Chair of South East Councils, Cllr Nicolas Heslop, said:
“Of course, we welcome much needed funding to level up left behind areas in the South East.
“The South East has some of the most deprived communities in England, yet at the same time, it has one of the highest relative costs of living.
“Too often the South East is lumped together with London in the headlines as if the regions should be left behind.
“In fact, the North East, a region populated by 2.6 million people, received 5.2% of the funding in this second round.
“The South East, populated by 9.3 million, and London, populated by 8.8 million, received 10.1% and 7.3% respectively.
“This means that the North East received over three times as much funding per head than the South East and London together.
“But instead of pitting regions against each other – what we need to do is think long term and address the elephant in the room affecting councils in every part of the country.
“It’s time to recognise that the funding model for English Local Government is broken.
“Too many of our members have seen tens of thousands of pounds and hundreds of staff hours wasted on competitive bids that have been rejected.
“With greater revenue raising powers, councils could better deliver services for deprived communities and every local resident, much more efficiently.
“Councillors know their local areas better than any bureaucrat in Whitehall.
“Fiscal devolution should be at the forefront of the levelling up agenda.
“It’s time to bring an end to local authorities having no choice, but to beg for money from Westminster to keep their budgets afloat.”
For details on the fund, see: DLUHC (2023)
The source for the population figures above is: ONS (2021)