Yorkshire's coastal areas at risk of decline from missing out on levelling up funding, Salvation Army warns

Some of the most socially deprived areas in Yorkshire and the Humber are set to miss out on vital levelling up funding, a new report has warned.

Bridlington, Barnsley, Kirklees, Coastal East Yorkshire, Calderdale and Sheffield are not set to benefit from the £4.8bn Levelling Up fund according to the report from the Salvation Army.

The church has warned the areas are among those of most need of investment “to reverse a spiral of economic decline.”

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The Government has prioritised 93 areas as part of its levelling up fund but the Salvation Army has found 45 locations in urgent need of investment nationwide, including the six in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The church has warned that unless the Government rethinks how it calculates an area’s need, entire communities will be locked out of Levelling Up Funding and left to spiral into further poverty. Pictured: Bridlington harbour

The church has warned that unless the Government rethinks how it calculates an area’s need, entire communities will be locked out of Levelling Up Funding and left to spiral into further poverty.

It said the Government’s analysis of need was largely based on unemployment figures, but the Salvation Army’s analysis included looking at how zero hours contracts, seasonal employment and shrinking traditional industries prevent people from finding stable and skilled employment.

Rebecca Keating, The Salvation Army’s director of employment services, said: “The £4.8bn earmarked for Levelling Up is a bold move by the Government and an opportunity to lift thousands out of unemployment but we are worried that this investment is missing many key areas in serious decline.

“As well as analysing employment and income data, we talked to people to find out first-hand what people needed. Many people told us they have been stuck in low-skill seasonal jobs, which are now at risk following the pandemic but they are too old to easily access training courses to reskill. One of the most common issues are single parents faced with jobs offering wages that don’t cover the cost of their childcare.

“We want to encourage the Government to listen to the communities who need their help.”

The church has also warned that there is a risk that a disproportional amount of funding could be spent on infrastructure such as road and bridges, rather than projects to help communities upskill people and access employment.

Scarborough Salvation Army leader Major Stephen Noble said: “As we approach the end of the summer season, I ordinarily would expect to see unemployment to significantly increase.

“However, what I’ve continued to observe is that we face an ongoing challenge due to work on offer being very seasonal and subsequently low pay or zero-hour contracts.

“For those we support who are already struggling and are claiming benefits, they don’t want to lose a regular source of income from the Government to gamble on the nature of zero-hour contracts or for work that barely pays more than the subsidy received only to be faced with no income again. They need sustainable work.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The Government is levelling up all areas of the country, with billions of pounds of investment to support and regenerate communities, including coastal areas.

“These have already benefited from over £250m through successful bids into Town Deals and from the Future High Streets Fund.

The Levelling Up Fund was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in his spending review last year.