(Church Times) ‘Levelling up’ funding not enough, says Bishop Wilcox of Sheffield

Funding set aside to regenerate 20 towns and cities outlined in the Government White Paper Levelling Up, “barely begins to address the chronic under-investment of recent decades”, the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, has warned.

The White Paper, published on Wednesday, consists of 12 “national missions” to be achieved by 2030, including missions to close gaps in wealth, employment, education, training, 5G broadband, homeownership, and life expectancy in the UK — particularly between the north and south of England. It also pledges to reduce homicide and serious violence in the worst-affected areas, and offer a “London-style” devolution deal to every part of England which requests one, supported by the £2.6-billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is to be decentralised to local leaders.

One of the central proposals is to “restore local pride” in 20 towns and cities, beginning with Wolverhampton and Sheffield, with “King’s Cross-style” regeneration projects. To fund this, from April, £1.5 billion of the £1.8 million announced in the October Budget to bring 1500 hectares of brownfield land into use will be redirected towards the north and the Midlands.

In November, Wolverhampton and Sheffield were respectively promised £20 million and £37 million towards the scheme; a further £28 million was allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority, and £13 million for the South Yorkshire Combined Authority on Sunday.

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