The phrase ‘levelling up’ has been seen as a means of shifting government funding to areas of the country with high deprivation and a lack of modern economic development, in order to boost the standards of living of communities and improve their life chances.
However – and controversially – some of the latest allocation of money has gone to parts of England that, in the view of many, should not have been at the front of the queue, such as in relatively affluent Kent.
Of course, Kent is not without its own pockets of deprivation and the allocation of funds will provide an important boost in some areas, including builders merchants in Kent who will supply construction materials for some of the projects.
A total of £122 million has been allocated to schemes in Kent, with winners including town centre redevelopment schemes in Dover, Sheerness and Folkestone. There will also work in Canterbury to enable the reopening of the castle and enhancements at the port of Dover to help keep the traffic flowing, an important step for cross-channel trade and travel.
At the same time, plans for town centre developments in Gravesend and Herne Bay and several projects in Medway all failed to gain funding.
Overall, the south east of England has received £210 million and London £151 million. The figure for the south east was the second highest of any region; slightly more than the £208 million awarded to Wales, but well behind the north west, which was the big winner with £354 million.
Notably, many of the biggest cities outside London missed out on funding, with even the north west seeing bids from Manchester and Liverpool turned down, while Leeds saw six projects turned down and Birmingham was unsuccessful with five.
The £151 million going to London will include projects like the redevelopment of central Hackney and the further economic advancement of the Stratford and docklands areas of Newham.