There have been various policy initiatives announced by the UK Government in recent months to try to further their ambition to “Level Up” the country.
These recognise that there are huge regional inequalities across the UK, which have only been increasing over the last couple of decades. To a certain extent, the UK Government is also looking to
fill a gap left by the absence of EU funding to further similar aims in the past.
We discuss the Levelling Up Fund in this paper, focussing on how different areas have been categorised through the Levelling Up prioritisation index. We also discuss the areas flagged for priority funding through the Community Renewal Fund, and compare and contrast the methodology used for both funds.
Our main findings are:
- Whilst using a range of indicators to assist with allocation of funding is to be welcomed, this
exercise demonstrates the difficulty of using a set of indicators to capture the different types
of need in different areas;
- The Levelling Up Fund methodology is not sufficiently transparent – much more must be
done in future to ensure that appropriate detail is provided;
- The Levelling Up Fund methodology is not capturing need for transport connectivity in
rural areas in Scotland and Wales, due to the inconsistent nature of the indices in different
- Given the level of funding at stake and the need for transparency, it is critical that there is
a more open consultation on the allocation of the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund,
including a discussion of current data gaps and limitations to identify the people and areas
most in need; and
- Policy makers should pay special attention to areas most impacted by the COVID-19
restrictions, while regional data fails to reflect these disproportionate impacts.