Boris Johnson’s flagship levelling up strategy has been undermined as it emerged that a £220 million fund to boost deprived communities unveiled several months ago has not yet been allocated to councils.
The UK Community Renewal Fund was launched in March this year to replace EU regional funding lost after Britain left the EU, with local authorities invited to submit bids for the cash.
But a promise by ministers to allocate the funding in July has been broken, and last night the government admitted the bids are still being assessed.
The failure to meet the target was exposed by the Liberal Democrats, who said councils were running out of time to spend the money before the deadline of March 2022.
Lib Dem communities and local government spokesman Tim Farron accused ministers of “abandoning deprived communities and leaving local councils in the dark”.
Emails seen by i from councils reveal that town hall chiefs are exasperated by the lack of clarity from the government, as they are unable to make plans or meet targets without confirmation that the funding is coming.
Council leaders have not even received a response from the government.
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