Levelling up being further frustrated by avoidable delays - The Yorkshire Post says
Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Instead the picture painted by a new National Audit Office report shows that there have been failings contrary to those aims.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has allocated £9.5bn of funding for local government through three funds to support levelling up.
However, the projects are behind where the Department expected them to be and there are question marks around the ability of local authorities to complete projects by original deadlines.
There are multiple reasons for delay, including inflationary pressures, skills shortages and wider construction industry supply challenges.
But as the report highlights, departmental decisions have also had a detrimental impact.
Local authorities had to delay projects as several announcements were made later than planned.
One example highlighted is that of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which was launched in April 2022. Local authorities were given until August 2022 to submit investment plans but the Department for Levelling Up didn’t approve these until December 2022, leaving councils with only three months to spend their 2022-23 allocation. Communication issues have also left local authorities confused as to what funding they may receive from each fund.
For all the talk of devolution, it is clear that the Government is still unwilling to release its vice-like grip on the region’s future. Unless people start seeing progress on the ground, levelling up will be a busted flush. And the Government is running out of time with a General Election not far away.