The levelling up agenda will include a consultation on using £880m released by an expansion of the Dormant Asset Scheme, the government has promised.
This consultation on how to use £880m in additional funding will definitely include the community wealth fund option, something much of the charity sector has campaigned for, and will begin this year.
Ahead of the publication of the white paper on levelling up this afternoon, the government has set out its general vision and “12 missions to level up the UK”.
However, the announcement coincides with the publication of a critical report by the National Audit Office (NAO) about the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
Releasing more from dormant assets
Over the last decade more than £700m has been released through the Dormant Asset Scheme and legislation to expand the scheme to cover more types of assets is making its way through parliament.
Today the government said: “£44m will be unlocked from the Dormant Assets Scheme to support charities, social enterprises, and vulnerable individuals. With a consultation on the best causes for a further £880m later this year, which will include a community wealth fund, youth and social investment.”
The levelling up white paper will also include a “National Youth Guarantee” that will mean “by 2025 every young person in England will have access to regular out of school activities, adventures away from home, and opportunities to volunteer”.
Elsewhere, the white paper will offer more funding to local authorities. A £50m Safer Streets Fund will also me accessible to “certain civil society organisations” for projects tackling anti-social behaviour.
The £2.6bn Shared Prosperity Fund “will be decentralised to local leaders as far as possible, with investments set to regenerate communities, boost people’s skills, and support local businesses”.
Gove: ‘Too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued’
The government said this was a decade-long agenda.
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove said: “The United Kingdom is an unparalleled success story. We have one of the world’s biggest and most dynamic economies. Ours is the world’s most spoken language. We have produced more Nobel Prize winners than any country other than America.
“But not everyone shares equally in the UK’s success. For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued. As some areas have flourished, others have been left in a cycle of decline. The UK has been like a jet firing on only one engine.
“Levelling up and this white aper is about ending this historic injustice and calling time on the postcode lottery.”
NAO: ‘Government doesn’t whether public money has had the intended impact’
This morning the National Audit Office criticised the DLUHC for not having a clear idea about how much impact previous programmes have had.
It published its report about £18bn funding aimed at stimulate local growth between 2011 and 2020, which concluded that the department has “limited understanding” of what has worked in the past.
Gareth Davies head of the NAO said: “The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has not consistently evaluated its past interventions to stimulate local economies, so it doesn’t know whether billions of pounds of public spending has had the impact intended.
“With its focus on levelling up, it is vital that the department puts robust evaluation arrangements in place for its new schemes to promote local growth.”
NAO also criticised DLUHC over the decision to fast-track the business case for the Levelling Up Fund. Instead of all three standard stages the Treasury approved a single stage process.
“While there may have been good reasons to move quickly, bypassing the earlier stages of a business case review limits the amount of scrutiny and independent challenge. The business case it did produce, and that HM Treasury approved, did not document the substantive comparison of alternative options for achieving ministerial aims as it should have,” the NAO said.