Dragons' Den style funding contests hindering levelling up, Dan Jarvis warns

The Government’s levelling up ambitions are being held back by its “obsession with Dragons’ Den style” competitions to win funding, Dan Jarvis has warned.

The Barnsley Central MP, who has just stepped down as South Yorkshire mayor, said that without a change of course the Government’s stated ambition of reducing regional inequalities will not happen.

He said: “Although the Government’s stated ambition to level up is the right one, they are without a coherent plan and the transformative funding required to actually deliver it.

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“Tackling deep-rooted inequality requires proper investment. Barnsley lost out on over £100m from levelling up pots of cash due to the Government’s obsession with Dragons’ Den style competitive funding processes that pit town-against-town, region-against-region. That is the reality of levelling up for my constituents.

Dan Jarvis has recently stepped down as Mayor of South YorkshireDan Jarvis has recently stepped down as Mayor of South Yorkshire
Dan Jarvis has recently stepped down as Mayor of South Yorkshire

“Without the necessary money and powers we simply cannot level up our region. Give us the tools and we’ll do the job.”

His comments follow his recent warning in Parliament that a “step change” in devolved powers is required to deliver levelling up, along with major funding commitments.

Mr Jarvis said: “If the Secretary of State needs an example of where levelling up has succeeded, he should look to German reunification. It is estimated that €2 trillion was spent on the project between 1990 and 2014.

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“Most East German federal states are still the largest recipients of investment from central Government. Despite huge progress, East Germany has still not fully closed the gap with the former West Germany, but its GDP per capita is now higher than Yorkshire’s.”

Levelling Up Minister Kemi Badenoch said in response that while she agreed with Mr Jarvis’s remarks about German reunification, levelling up is “not about just pouring money into areas”.

She added: “On who got levelling up funding, the truth is that all of this is based on the quality of the bids. We cannot guarantee that we can fund every bid, when they are compared with what is being presented by others.”

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