London in competition with regions for levelling-up funds

Councils in central London are preparing levelling-up plans for the capital which could divert funding from areas of the north and Midlands which are usually considered those most in need.

Leaders of regions like the North East could find themselves competing for levelling-up funds with a group of 12 central London boroughs which, in spite of the wealth present there, also contain areas of deprivation.

The 12 boroughs are working on plans that could include Crossrail 2, the north-south line across London which is currently suspended, other tube lines and digital infrastructure, a Local Government Chronicle online discussion was told today by Elizabeth Campbell, council leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Though she recognised the part that the capital could play in supporting other parts of the country, she also made clear that London too was affected by problems that required assistance.

London supported the levelling-up agenda, she said, and wanted to make a contribution, but also had problems of its own also needed help too; there were inequalities within regions as well as between regions.

Before the pandemic, she said, London was already suffering the highest poverty and child poverty in the country; it had been hit hardest by Covid and had lost the most jobs, had the most furloughed jobs and the highest unemployment.

The capital’s economy had been hit by a drop in footfall, both among office workers and international tourists.

This website reported in January on the findings of the Centre for Cities think tank that some previously economically successful cities and towns, including London, had been hard hit by the pandemic and would be new competitors for levelling-up funding.