Charities ‘to miss out’ on government's levelling up funding

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) is warning that charities are “unlikely to receive much levelling up funding” from the government and should brace themselves for having a limited say in how the money is to be spent.

Since winning the 2019 election and claiming a number of new, so-called ‘red wall’ traditional Labour voting seats, the Conservative government has sought to prioritise a levelling up agenda for England to tackle geographic inequalities.

This was cemented at the March 2021 budget with three pots of funding totalling £5.17bn.

These include the Levelling up Fund, which is worth £4.8bn and forms the bulk of the funding.

Meanwhile, £220m has been available through the UK Community Renewal Fund and a further £150m through the Community Ownership Fund.

But NPC says that the bulk (87%) of the funding is likely to be targeted at capital infrastructure projects such as transport, parks and building repairs.

“Although there is some potential for social infrastructure, such as skills training, the new funding announced has limited scope for services such as youth provision, addiction, or homelessness, which many would think are important for levelling up our communities,” said NPC.

NPC’s report on its findings adds that the nature of projects funded through the Levelling Up Fund “works against charity and community involvement”.

“The Fund is very much organised around building ‘things’, whilst charities tend to deliver services”.

It adds: “The UK Community Renewal Fund and the Community Ownership Fund offer more opportunity for charities to be involved as they include community-run buildings and some social services.

“However, with a combined value of £370m they are currently a very small part of both the recently announced funding and the levelling up agenda overall.”

The government is currently deciding on how the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be spent. NPC advises charities to “grasp the opportunity to share their knowledge of how social infrastructure can be a vital part of delivering the government’s levelling up agenda by demonstrating the impact they make in people’s lives each and every day”.

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