Four North East councils are among 13 throughout England selected by the Department for Levelling Up to pilot a new programme intended to empower local leaders to better solve issues affecting their communities, supported by cross-government collaboration.
Northumberland and Durham county councils and Newcastle and Sunderland city councils will participate in the Partnerships for People and Place programme, under which locally-led projects will tackle issues such as unemployment, health disparities, poverty and crime.
They will receive between £150,000 and £350,000 each over a two-year period from the Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund, sharing a total of £5m.
The Department for Levelling Up said the programme will trial new ways of working across local and central government and deliver innovative, locally-led solutions to key challenges that communities face.
Councils will be provided with funding and specialist support for projects targeting specific issues in their areas. The projects will be spread across urban, rural and coastal communities and will tackle a broad range of issues including increasing apprenticeship opportunities.
Each pilot will be looking to test whether closer working between different parts of central government and local places can bring measurable benefits to local communities and people.
Minister for Levelling Up and Communities Kemi Badenoch MP said: ‘This is an innovative programme with the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives. From skills shortages and unemployment to tackling poverty and reducing crime, local people are best placed to solve challenges in their own areas’.
According to the Department, councils and their local partners will be offered a range of support, including contact with senior officials across central government to solve problems identified at a local level and external expertise and resources to map existing funding and outcomes and evaluate their projects.
Partnerships for People and Place will also look at whether improved government structures, more flexible funding models and greater collaboration across the public sector could be effective in addressing specific issues in local areas.