This is an unedited press release from Brent Council published today:
The funding formula for a £4.8billion package of infrastructure investment has been criticised as it does not use standard measures to assess levels of need and has led to London boroughs like Brent missing out on the top priority list.
The Government’s ‘Levelling Up Fund’ details how local authorities can bid for cash to pay for projects that can help boost the economy such as transport improvements, town centre regeneration, culture and heritage.
Every local authority in England has been put into one of three tiers – with tier 1 being those areas deemed most in need of investment. Only two London’s boroughs are in the top tier that mainly contains authorities from northern England.
Out of the three tiers, Brent has been marked down into the second group. This is despite Brent having a relatively high level of unemployment – with 23,160 residents out of work and more than 10 percent of the borough’s working age population claiming unemployment benefits. The average claimant rate across the areas first in line for cash from the Levelling Up Fund is 7 per cent, three per cent lower than Brent.
The Office of National Statistics also shows that Brent is the 38th worst area for average income deprivation out of 314 local authorities in England.
"If the Covid crisis has taught us anything it has proved beyond doubt how unequal our society has become,” says Cllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council Leader. “We have all been in the same storm but we’re not all in the same boat. Inequality costs lives and prevents people in less well-off areas from reaching their full potential.
“Even when the pandemic is over, the legacy of job losses, reduced hours and poor mental and physical health are all issues that need urgent action. No one should be left behind and levelling up parts of northern England should not be at the expense of diverse boroughs like Brent. The council is determined to make Brent better, fairer and greener but we cannot do this alone. The council is concerned that the criteria used to assess the funding needs of different areas seems to discriminate against London. We are lobbying the Government to change the funding formula and make areas like Brent a priority for investment too.”