MPs have highlighted that the first round of the £1.7billion Leveling Up fund was only awarded after the Department knew the identities of the shortlisted bidders.
Ministers were today accused of “staking taxpayers’ money on policies” that are “little more than a slogan” about Boris Johnson’s flagship leveling plan.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee has blasted the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities for using “unsatisfactory” methods to allocate billions of pounds of taxpayer money.
In a report published today, the cross-party group of MPs highlighted that the first round of the £1.7billion Leveling-Up Fund was only awarded after the Department knew the identities of the shortlisted bidders.
The pot of money, which will ultimately amount to £4.8 billion, will go to projects aiming to “improve everyday life across the UK” including through “city center and high street refurbishment, public transport modernization and investment.” in culture and heritage”. , according to the government.
Opening yesterday’s cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister pledged to focus on his alignment agenda while desperately trying to buck 41% of his MPs’ lack of confidence in his leadership.
A spokesman for No10 said: “He said the government’s core job of unifying and leveling is what’s right morally, socially and economically.”
But in unveiling today’s report, committee chair Dame Meg Hillier was furious: “Without clear parameters, plans or measures of success, it’s hard to avoid the appearance that the government is just putting taxpayers’ money on policies and programs that do little more than… are a slogan, retrofit is the criteria for success and doesn’t even bother to evaluate if it worked.
“The nation is under more pressure than it has been in decades – there is nothing left to throw away like that.
“The government must learn to hold taxpayers accountable again for the use of their money.”
Kevin Bentley of the Local Government Association said: “Turning leveling from a political slogan to a reality will only be achieved if councils have the powers and funding they need to address regional disparities, tackle concentrations of deprivation and to create towns and communities across England attractive places to live, work and visit.
“Competitive bids for short-term, small funding pots create uncertainty and consume important municipal resources that could be better spent on forward planning for their communities.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Levelling-up, Housing and Communities said: “The first round of the Leveling-Up fund is delivering vital investments for communities across the UK that have been overlooked and undervalued for too long.
“The evaluation process was transparent, robust and fair, and criteria included the need for projects to be viable and drive renewal and growth to improve areas most in need.
“Further rounds of the Leveling-Up Fund will continue this work, with unsuccessful bidders receiving feedback and being able to re-apply.”
Shadow Leveling-Up Secretary Lisa Nandy said, “For all the big promises, this is the reality behind Leveling-Up.
“Conservatives throw our money around like confetti, make us compete like we’re at the Hunger Games and fail to do something for our communities.
“We need a government with the same ambition for this country as the people in it. If the Tories don’t rise, Labor will.
“We will put money back in people’s pockets and bring good jobs back to places they’ve lost, and we will give our communities real power to drive those decisions so that our hard-earned money is well spent, helping Britain from the ground up to rebuild.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/damning-report-says-tories-squandered-27172368 The damning report says Tories have squandered billions on unfair "leveling up" funds