Region’s MPs try to get answers from ministers on flagship policy
Local London MPs have been arguing the sub-region’s case for levelling up support as the Government continues to stall on the publication of its flagship policy.
The Levelling Up White Paper will outline the Government’s policies to spread opportunity across the UK and ‘level up’ poorer regions. Its publication was widely anticipated in the autumn Comprehensive Spending Review but was delayed due to ministerial re-shuffles. It’s expected now in February.
On Tuesday (24 January), the Secretary of State and his team responded to questions about the Levelling Up White Paper, and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which will replace former EU funding streams, in a parliamentary question time session.
Local London would have been in line for around £1 billion in support over seven years had the UK remained part of the European bloc and for the past two years has been influencing Government around its case for UKSPF funding.
Several Local London MPs have lodged written questions to Michal Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing, seeking assurances that this region will not be left out.
Stephen Timms MP, who represents the East Ham constituency in Newham, asked how the impact of covid-19 would be accounted for in areas like east and north east London, which already experiences high levels of inequality and deprivation. He also asked whether our sub region would be allocated resources in line with other parts of the country with comparable economic conditions.
In his response, Levelling Up Minister Neil O’Brien MP referenced Barking and Dagenham, and Newham, as being in the highest priority of need for the current levelling up fund and highlighted funding already received by those boroughs to support projects. He also flagged Newham as being a beneficiary of the community renewal fund.
Levelling up the UK does not mean levelling down London
While not directly answering the question, Mr O’Brien did say London would not be forgotten in the levelling-up debate, adding: “Levelling up the UK does not mean levelling down London.”
Meanwhile, Dame Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking, asked the minister whether the Government had “made an assessment on the impact of the end of EU funding on less developed regions” (Local London is one of seven less developed regions under the EU’s funding calculation criteria). She also asked whether the UK Shared Prosperity Fund would match EU funding levels.
Mr O’Brien said the Government had promised to match EU funding over the next three years. He said: “UK-wide funding for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will ramp up to at least match receipts from EU structural funds, which on average reached around £1.5 billion per year. Spending Review 2021 fulfils this commitment, with the announcement of over £2.6 billion for the UKSPF over the next three years, with funding reaching £1.5 billion in 2024-25.”
In the autumn, Local London published a report by the think tank Localis which made a case for specific support for this sub-region from the Levelling Up White Paper. Since its publication, we have been working with our MPs, assembly members and parliamentary interest groups to amplify this work.