Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:47 am on 21st June 2022.

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Mairi Spowage:

We did quite a lot of work last year through the first iteration of the levelling-up fund on the sorts of metrics that were used to determine the highest priority areas. The UK Government made it clear in their criteria for which projects would be funded that that was not be the only thing that would be taken into account and that there were other issues they would look at around the strategic fit. In particular, in the first round there were a lot of criteria about how quickly certain pots of money could be spent. For community renewal, it had to be spent by March 2022; for levelling up, it was over a number of years. There were quite strict criteria that would be applied. In addition, there was the requirement that projects or packages of projects also be supported by local MPs.

I am most familiar with the Scottish projects, but the series of projects across the UK that were funded were not necessarily in the areas that were identified as highest priority using the metrics that had been set out. I suppose it is for the UK Government to say why that is the case and why the particular projects were funded, as I am not familiar with all the projects that did not get funded, for example.

It will be very important throughout this process and in the future, and for the shared prosperity fund as well, to set out clearly why the projects being funded are likely to achieve the outcomes set out in the levelling-up White Paper and broader outcomes around the funds. That will ensure these investments actually lead to the sorts of changes that the UK Government desires. They should then set out why a project will move the metrics they have chosen to measure the success of the fund. It will be very important to have clarity on why the packages of projects that are being funded will actually help achieve the outcomes.