Michael Gove expresses 'regret' over community cash delays

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has expressed “regret” that towns have not yet found out whether their bids for extra cash to support local projects have been successful.

Mr Gove hinted that there could be more news on the allocation of money from the UK Community Renewal Fund “later this week”, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to set out his Spending Review and Budget tomorrow.

The funding is designed to replace money that previously made its way to the UK from the EU before Brexit, and will make way for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is due to launch next year.

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Bids have been entered from across Yorkshire, but Labour said there is “no point of the Government trumpeting funding that never turns up” as authorities have been waiting for months to find out if their applications have made it through.

Michael Gove giving his keynote address during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (PA)

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Steve Reed said: “It’s four months since the deadline for the community renewal fund bids, mid point reviews are due to start next week but many areas still have no idea if their bids have been successful and some are telling me that the Government’s delays mean their projects may collapse.

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“There’s no point of the Government trumpeting funding that never turns up, so will he commit to letting every area know the outcome of their bid before the end of this month and can he guarantee that the department’s delays so far will not jeapordise jobs or investment linked to any of these projects?”

Responding, Mr Gove said: “It’s a cause of regret that we have not been able to respond as quickly as we might have wanted but there will be more news later this week.”

Politicians and local leaders are also still awaiting a key White Paper document on the Government’s key election pledge, which it is hoped will lay out how levelling up can be achieved.

The discussions come as Mayors and local leaders from around the country have laid out what they want from the upcoming white paper in their area.

In a collection published by the Centre for Cities, West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin described the flagship policy “not just about closing regional gaps between the north and south, it’s also about narrowing the unacceptable socio-economic inequalities between communities and groups within our region."