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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove unveiled the UK Government’s White Paper on 2 February 2022. The Paper sets out the UK Government’s moral, social and economic programme to ‘level up’ areas of the UK and provide equal opportunities throughout the country.
The Government has also published guidance on one of the central pillars of Levelling Up, the £2.6bn UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The guidance provides information on the aims of the fund and the Government's aspiration to decentralise funding to local leaders and identified local priorities.
As a part of the Government’s ‘system change’ approach, the White Paper sets out 12 national missions to be achieved by 2030 covering the following areas:
- Living Standards
- Research & Development (R&D)
- Transport Infrastructure
- Digital Connectivity
- Pride in Place
- Local Leadership
These missions form the Government's medium-term policy objectives for levelling up, and among other things aim to:
- increase pay, employment and productivity across the UK;
- increase domestic public investment in research and development by 40% by 2030, outside of the Greater South East area;
- implement the £96bn Integrated Rail Plan;
- invest £24bn in the UK’s busiest roads and motorways;
- invest £5bn for buses, cycling and walking network;
- deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for most of the UK through Project Gigabit and the Shared Rural Network;
- implement 55 new Education Investment Areas;
- have 200,000 additional people complete high quality skills training each year;
- have 80,000 additional people complete lower skilled training, by 2030;
- develop a National Food Strategy;
- decrease the amount of non-decent rented homes by 50%;
- give renters a clear path to home ownership with first time buyers increasing in all areas of the UK;
- reduce the rates of homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime by 2030; and
- extend devolution to allow local leadership in every area of England.
The Government has promised to publish further detail on these policy objectives in due course and to bring into effect the necessary legislation. Levelling Up is clearly a key objective of the Government, and whilst the first round of funding from the Levelling Up Fund has supported £1.7bn of projects across the UK, it remains to be seen whether the White Paper will translate into action capable of achieving the Government’s aim of spreading opportunity more equally across all parts of the UK.
Ashfords’ Public Sector Team regularly advise on applications for funding from Central and Local Government funds, including the Levelling Up Fund. The Team is particularly familiar with advising various applicants in relation to funding bids and compliance with subsidy control commitments. For further assistance with funding applications, or further details on the UK’s subsidy control commitments, or any other public sector queries, please contact our Public Sector Team who will be more than happy to assist you.