Funding for Level up The report criticized the use of “resource-intensive” bidding processes and said the increase was “unlikely to succeed” unless the approach changed.
Despite Portsmouth As the seventh largest recipient of funding from the department, the ad hoc committee’s findings were supported by political leaders in the city.
The select committee’s report identifies a number of problems with the government’s policy, including bidding requirements that could cost councils tens of thousands of pounds, and says its aims could fail if changes are not made.
“The government’s current approach is characterized by one-off, short-term initiatives and will not be sufficient to reduce and ultimately overcome geographic, economic, social and health inequalities,” it said. “To change this, the policy requires a long-term substantive strategy and approach to funding, which the policy currently lacks.”
Chairman of the commission, deputy Clive Bettssaid there was a cross-party consensus on tackling regional inequality but it “cannot be fixed with the government’s current approach of one-off short-term initiatives”.
“A level-up policy requires a long-term and sound strategy and approach to financing, elements that are currently lacking in this policy,” he said. “Without this shift, rate hikes risk joining the short-term government growth initiatives that have gone before.”
He added that the Department of Advancement had “primary responsibility” and said there was “a lack of strategic oversight”.
His comments were backed by the Liberal Democrat leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Steve Peet.
“It’s important to be able to look at the long term, and it seems like everything was rushed,” he said. “There is a lack of clarity about what the government wants to achieve and that is not helping.
“We found that you have to have bids ready for those rates, and that inhibits your ability to do things over a longer period of time, especially on regeneration.”
The department has given the city council nearly £88m, including £56m through the Urban Transformation Fund and £20m through the first round of the Upgrading Fund, according to research by the University of West London.
A bid for the second round of the latest fund, announced earlier this year, failed, prompting criticism from Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan. A third round is expected later this year.
Mr Morgan said the select committee’s report showed “the extent of Conservative mismanagement” of regional economic growth.
“It is clear that the government’s approach is focused on short-term political ambitions rather than a genuine desire to support communities,” he said. “After years of neglect, it is vital that Portsmouth receives the investment it needs from the Government to put the heart back into our town center and grow the local economy.
“Ministers must take a long-term approach to supporting wellbeing across our city.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Upgrading, Housing and Communities said: “Upgrading is a long-term program of reform that is at the heart of our ambitions as a government. He is breathing life into long-neglected communities, whether through record investment in town centers and high streets or devolving more money and power from Westminster to the regions.
“Almost £10 billion has been made available from DLUHC from 2019 to support around 1,000 projects, on top of a £7.5 billion commitment to England’s nine boroughs.
“We continue to work to simplify funding processes to support local authorities and are currently reflecting on the lessons learned from the first two rounds of Upgrading Fund allocations to inform the design of Round 3.”