As part of yesterday's Budget the Chancellor confirmed the criteria for a new Levelling Up Fund. Local authorities will be invited to bid for money for significant intrastructure projects, especially with regard to transport, regeneration and cultural investment, with all funding to be spent by March 2024. Each authority has been placed into category 1, 2 or 3, with category 1 representing places with the highest levels of identified need, and preference will be given to bids from higher priority areas. Most of the 1s are a long way from the capital but two London boroughs have made the cut, namely Newham and Barking & Dagenham, according to an algorithm the goverment hasn't yet revealed.
The rest of London's boroughs are split between 2s and 3s, these less likely and much less likely to be funded. Fair enough, it's easy to argue that Barrow-in-Furness, Bolton and Bridgend deserve the money more. But it's intriguing that the 2s contain Camden but not Islington, Havering but not Redbridge, Hillingdon but not Harrow, Lewisham but not Southwark, Ealing but not Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea but not Hammersmith & Fulham, and Hackney but not Tower Hamlets. Sure the northern part of Kensington & Chelsea is deprived... but so is Poplar in Tower Hamlets, and although the line has to be drawn somewhere it does look a bit odd. Whatever, with more 2s than 3s we do at least now know that London isn't quite as 'levelled up' as some might believe.