Levelling Up

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 20 November 2023.

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Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 3:43, 20 November 2023

The hon. Gentleman misjudged the mood of the House. He talks about local government finances. Last year, we gave local authorities an uplift of more than £5 billion. He asks whether any projects were axed by the methodology that we used—no, they were not. As I say, we set out the methodology online, and I will ensure that there is a copy in the House of Commons Library.

The hon. Gentleman asked what conversations there were with local authorities ahead of any announcement. We have area teams on the ground in all local authority areas, which confirmed with councils that projects were still a priority. They also confirmed with councils whether projects could still be delivered by the deadline. No projects were identified through those conversations that did not qualify this time around.

Further to that, the hon. Gentleman asked about funding simplification and why we are embarking on that. He mentioned the NAO’s concerns. Some of its concerns are legitimate, but we looked at its report and many of the figures dated from March. We have spent £1.5 billion on local places since March. We announced the funding simplification plan in July, in response to the commitment we made in the levelling-up White Paper to simplify the funding landscape.

Finally, the hon. Gentleman described £13 billion of levelling-up funding as “crumbs”. That says it all about the Labour party. It does not recognise the value of anything. We are investing £13 billion in local priorities, and Labour describes that as crumbs. I leave it to the House to determine what it thinks of that.