When you ask people how they would judge their area to have levelled up, they’ll tell you about the social issues in their area, like homelessness, crime, and poverty. Yet so far Levelling Up money has been focussed on physical infrastructure. We’re not seeing targeting towards places with higher rates of homelessness, despite it being among the issues the public most care about.
With a White Paper imminent, and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund yet to be fully allocated, the Government has a real opportunity to set this right.
Based on our previous polling, the public consider the most important aspects to an area being levelled up to be reduced homelessness (36% placing this in their top three factors), reduced poverty (36%), lower levels of crime (34%), and lower levels of unemployment (32%).
In this analysis, we investigate where Levelling Up money is going and how it compares with these priorities.
- Areas with the worst homelessness rates do not receive any more Levelling Up funding on average across the UK than places with less homelessness. This is despite homelessness being a key metric by which the public would judge Levelling Up to be a success. In Scotland, local authorities with the highest homelessness rates are receiving less Levelling Up funding than the areas with the lowest.
- Even the funding that is going to the right places is not going to tackle social issues. NPC analysis shows that only 2% of the total levelling up funding is going on social infrastructure so far, despite the public’s expectation that Levelling Up tackle social issues. The majority is going on hard infrastructure, high streets, and buildings.
- Multiple wealthy areas with few social issues are receiving large amounts of Levelling Up funding. For some places, like the Isles of Scilly, this is due to unique circumstances. For others, like Lewes, the substantial Levelling Up money is harder to explain.
- Meanwhile, some of the most deprived local authorities in Britain have had no Levelling Up funding at all so far. In Wales, seven of the ten most deprived local authorities have gained no money so far from the funds we analysed. In Scotland, six of the ten most deprived local authorities are not yet receiving any. In England, three of the ten most deprived local authorities are not yet receiving any. The places which are missing out are predominantly urban areas.
- High crime areas do not receive any more Levelling Up funding on average across Wales than low crime areas, despite crime being a key metric by which the public would judge Levelling Up to be a success. In Wales, the areas with the highest crime rates receive less Levelling Up funding than the areas with the lowest crime rates.
- Per person, Wales and Scotland are getting less Levelling Up funding than England so far. Scotland is only receiving 3.5% of all Levelling Up funding we analysed, despite having 8.2% of the population. Wales is getting just 2.5% of Levelling Up funding despite having 4.7% of the population.