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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
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The Winners And Losers From The Latest Round Of Levelling Up Funding

The funding model has faced criticism over regional disparity (Alamy)

4 min read

The government has announced their second round of funding from the £4.8bn levelling up scheme aimed at reducing inequality across the UK but have faced criticism over regional disparity.

The latest tranche of cash has delivered a further £2.1bn to projects across the UK, and follows the awarding of £1.7bn from Round 1 of the project in 2021.

A total of 111 areas have been awarded funding after making successful bids to the government, with major transport projects in Cornwall, Shetland and Cardiff winning significant sums.

But analysis by PoliticsHome has found significant variations in per capita spending, with Wales emerging as a major winner in the second round of funding, with their £208m pot equating to funding worth around £67 per head.

Their total cash grants are largely driven by a successful £50m bid to build Crossrail Cardiff and two further £20m bids for a major new leisure centre and the restoration to three industry heritage sites.

That compares to London, which will receive the least amount of per capita spending at £17, despite containing some of the country's most deprived communities in inner city areas.

Speaking in Lancashire earlier today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the funding would help deliver jobs and prosperity across the country, adding that two thirds of the funding had gone to the most deprived regions of the country.

He added: "Levelling up is about making sure people feel pride in the places they call home - it's about driving jobs and investment."

But shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy has called the project a "Hunger Games-style contest" claiming that previous budget cuts outstripped the latest funding round.

The full breakdown also shows high per capita spending in the North East and North West, while more prosperous areas in the South East and South West

The figures also show that just three of the UK's 12 regions received less funding in this round than in 2021, with only Yorkshire and The Humber, the West Midlands and the East Midlands failing to secure more cash than they did in the first levelling up round.

But the biggest winner was the North West, which secured over £354m, including £50m for Lancaster City Council for their Eden Project eco-tourism attraction, and a further £50m for Lancashire County Council who will use the cash to improve walking and cycling routes and expand green spaces.

The regional totals also show that wealthier areas of the country, including London and the South East will receive more than both Yorkshire and the North East but ministers have insisted the cash to those areas will go to support projects in more impoverished areas, including a £19m fund to improve public spaces in Hackney Central.

Northern Ireland secured the least amount from the pot, with just £71m in additional funding, but still ranks around middle of the table in spending per head, with the new cash equating to £37 per capita.

Combining the two funding rounds shows the North West significantly ahead on funding, with almost £587m awarded to the region across the levelling up project, equating to 15.5 per cent of the total cash pot.

That puts them significantly ahead of the East Midlands, who have secured just over 10 per cent of the total funding since 2021, with £379m in total

Meanwhile, Labour's concerns that the North East is "one of the biggest losers" from the levelling agenda is borne out by the data, with the region securing just 5.5 per cent of the total spend - the lowest out of all regions except Northern Ireland.

The disparity in total spending as a result of the funding model has been criticised by former senior civil servant Philip Rycroft, who said the method of bidding for projects was "totally crackers".

Speaking after the latest funding announcement, he said: "£2bn of public money is being distributed across the nation by a bunch of civil servants who have probably not been to the vast majority of the places they are distributing money to. How can this be sensible?"

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