Levelling up: the 12 councils which spent the most on unsuccessful bids for levelling up cash - revealed

The councils in England that have lost out in the competetive bidding process for levelling up cash

Councils in England have spent more than £5 million producing bids for levelling up funding which were ultimately unsuccessful.

More than 80 councils produced at least one bid and received nothing. Of those, at least 50 local authorities spent money from their budgets beyond internal staff costs on producing unsuccessful bids, and 47 of those received no support in producing the bids from central government.

More than £27million has been spent on bids for funding since 2019, with the vast majority of this being spent on consultants, according to data obtained by NationalWorld through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Of the 333 councils approached, 88 did not reply and the majority of the 245 which did reply were unable to provide a cost for their internal staff time, meaning the true cost of producing levelling up bids is likely much higher.

The competitive bid system used by the government to allocate funding from a number of pots has been widely criticised by figures in local government and MPs. One council chief executive, who has called for the competitive bidding system to be scrapped, said it offers poor value for money and diverts resources away from better usage.

Other regional leaders, including West Midlands mayor Andy Street, have criticised this method of distributing central government funding and its prescriptive nature as going against the principles of devolution.

Speaking to MPs on the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities select committee about levelling up funding recently, he said: “I think the real issue here is if you trust people with these roles, and then you hold them to account with the electorate directly, then actually, you need to entrust them to take the right decisions, not in a sense have their proposals marked by civil servants and ministers in London.”

Here are the councils which spent the most and received nothing at all from the Future High Streets Fund, Levelling Up Fund, Community Renewal Fund and Towns Fund. A number of councils put together more expensive individual bids which were unsuccessful, but are not included in this list as they were awarded cash from at least one other funding pot.

To read more in this investigation on levelling up funding click here.

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