South East Councils has voiced concern that towns in the region are being wilfully ignored in Government funding allocations.
While the Prime Minister has said that £1.1bn ‘levelling up’ investment was being invested in 55 towns, only 3 of these towns (Hastings, Bexhill-on-Sea, and Ryde) are in the South East region.
South East Councils has called for Whitehall’ focus to be on fixing the flawed funding model for English Local Government.
Secretary of South East Councils, Cllr Alex Rennie, said:
“It is alarming that in this significant investment round only three councils in the South East have been allocated funds.
“When this is contrasted with nine in Yorkshire and the Humber – a region with half our population – it is undeniably disproportionate.
“This new fund is consistent with the trend we observed in the allocations of the Levelling Up Fund, where the North East received over three times as much funding per head than the South East and London together.
“In particular, coastal towns across Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire, grapple with their own set of socio-economic challenges. Their omission from funding opportunities paints a distressing picture for our communities and businesses that had high hopes of revitalisation.
“It is imperative for the Government to recognise that the South East is not a homogenised region of affluence. Within our boundaries are towns equally deserving of investment, much like the rest of the UK. Overlooking them, time and again, is not in the spirit of ‘levelling up’.
“While attempting to place some power closer in the hands of local communities and adopting a bottom-up style funding approach through Town Boards and a so-called ‘toolkit of powers’ is commendable, the introduction of this funding pot does not address the fundamentals.
“Fiscal devolution, with revenue-raising powers granted to councils without the requirement of Directly Elected Mayors, must be at the heart of the Government’s agenda.
“The post-pandemic surge in Section 114 notices is the smoke before the fire – a clear signal that councils are on their last legs.
“We urge a major shift from sticking plaster politics and call for a long-term, sustainable solution to the funding of local government in this country.”
- Cllr Alex Rennie is available for interview.
- South East Councils is a voluntary association with most councils in the South East region as members.
- The South East is one of only two English regions to be consistent net contributors to the Treasury.
- The South East is the UK’s most populated region.
- Government press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-puts-local-people-in-control-of-more-than-1-billion-with-long-term-plan-for-left-behind-towns