The National Audit Office report highlights delays in delivering on Levelling Up
The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report on the value for money of the Levelling Up funding for local government including the Towns Fund, the Levelling Up Fund and the Shared Prosperity Fund.
These funds are worth up to £10.6 billion and aim to allocate £9.5 billion to local places to be spent by 31 March 2026.
While the study acknowledges that this is at an early stage of the three funds, a number of comments are made intended to help improve the value for money discussion. The report noted that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities wasn’t prepared to manage the significant upturn in funding and large scale projects, but that this has improved.
The department has also been slow to agree funding for projects and this has meant (through delays, inflation, etc) an increase in the cost of projects and a need to adjust the scope of projects and that the allocation of funding is behind schedule. The report goes on to say:
“To secure value for money and maximise the desired benefits from these funds DLUHC should review expectations for what outcomes can be delivered by when and support local authorities and their partners to deliver the long-term benefits for people in their local places.”
Some of the funds analysed are England only but the majority of funding is UK wide. However of the £10.6billion identified, only £2billion has been given to local areas by 31st March 2023 and less than £1billion has been spent.
The NAO report also notes that there has been some confusion and overlap in terms of the funding that has meant local authorities have struggled to access, bid or identify projects that are appropriate or in a timely manner.
techUK has noted in the past (2022’s Local Digital Index recommendations) that “digital action and activity (should) be identified in future Levelling Up bids and projects to help address regional divides and exclusion.” The Index noted that this didn’t need to necessarily be funding toward digital projects directly but being more specific in looking at how projects can align with digital needs e.g. improving digital skills, digital adoption work with SMEs or improving digital infrastructure projects such as reliable free wi-fi zones.
In techUK’s 2023 Local Digital Index showed the potential boost in Digital GVA for UK communities by investing in tech and digital work and made recommendations including confirming the remaining Investment Zones to provide certainty, digital inclusion funding, and utilising data better within Local, devolved and central government.
techUK’s Head of Nations and Regions, Matt Robinson, recently said:
“The NAO’s report is welcome and shows there’s a need to renew the commitment to ‘Levelling Up’ by funding and delivering on projects faster and more efficiently.
“One of the twelve Levelling Up missions was identified as digital connectivity but the tech and digital sector have an important role in others such as improving living standards, skills, transport infrastructure, R&D and well-being.
“techUK has in the past suggested the role for digital and technology is being underutilised in projects, especially projects that could be rolled out and have an immediate impact on jobs, businesses and skills. As our 2023 Index has shown the UK’s potential digital GVA boost is £4.8billion p.a., going to areas and projects that would meet the levelling up criteria.”
You can find more on the National Audit Office’s report by following this link.
Latest News from
techUK at COP diary: Could negotiations spark on energy day?07/12/2023 11:20:00
techUK will be at COP 28 from Monday to Thursday this week, bringing daily blogs of activities and announcements.
Unlocking the UK central government’s digital future: A roadmap for technology suppliers in 202407/12/2023 10:15:00
Guest blog by Dilem Tekan, Growth Associate at Stotles, on key insights from their latest report: 'Central Government Procurement Pipeline' which will be presented at our upcoming webinar on 11 December.
Intervention in smart speaker market unnecessary according to radio listeners06/12/2023 16:20:00
As Parliament scrutinises the government’s proposed Media Bill, a new consumer survey commissioned by techUK has found that an overwhelming majority of those who listen to radio on their smart speaker [88%] are satisfied with their current radio experience on these devices.
Policy Pulse 1st December - The Online Fraud Charter05/12/2023 16:25:00
Fraud is now the most commonly experienced crime in the UK, costing over a hundred billion pounds every year, with online fraud making up an increasing proportion of incidents.
VAWG & RASSO – Reflections on the journey so far and what comes next05/12/2023 13:25:00
Listen back to hear from leads from the VAWG Taskfroce, Op Soteria, Police Digital Service and industry experts as they discuss the journey of the VAWG and RASSO digital strategic intents, progress and what comes next.
The Government looks to expand digital UK map of underground cables05/12/2023 11:25:00
The Government's National Underground Asset Register (NUAR), representing a new digital UK map of underground pipes and cables looks to expand, potentially to the public, following a progress update.
Leading the Charge Against Fraud: techUK Works to Deliver New Online Fraud Tech Charter01/12/2023 17:05:00
Over the last six months techUK has been working with techUK members and the Government on a new Online Fraud Charter which was finally signed yesterday.
Defence Digital and techUK collaboration Code of Practice - 2023 Update29/11/2023 09:25:00
techUK is delighted to announce a new signatory to the collaboration Code of Practice, developed in partnernship with Defence Digital.
techUK leads global coalition urging high ambition in WTO e-commerce negotiations28/11/2023 16:25:00
techUK, in collaboration with prominent international trade associations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, and Global Data Alliance, has spearheaded a joint appeal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the sustained pursuit of ambitious goals in the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) e-commerce negotiations.