The Chancellor unveils new 'levelling up fund' worth £4bn

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak Credit: PA Images

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled his spending review for the year ahead which included the announcement of a new 'levelling up fund' worth £4bn.

The Richmond MP said that the fund will invest in local infrastructure that has a 'visible impact on people and their communities' and will support economic recovery.

Local areas will be able to bid for up to £20m to directly fund local projects, such as upgrading train stations, creating more libraries and galleries or supporting our high streets and town centres.

Mr Sunak added that 'projects must have real impact, and they must be delivered within this Parliament.'

Mr Sunak said:

“People want to be able to look around their towns and villages and say ‘This place is better off than it was five years ago’.

“For too long, our funding approach has been complex and ineffective. And I want that to change.”

Reacting to the Chancellor's financial commitment to narrow the North - South divide, Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said the money pledged was 'small potatoes'.

As well as the allocation of a 'levelling up fund' for local infrastructure - the Chancellor also announced a new UK infrastructure bank - which will be headquartered in the north of England. The bank will work with the private sector to finance major new investment projects across the country.

The Chancellor added that the Treasury will set up its Northern headquarters next year, which will be part of a wider work that will see thousands of civil servants move to the regions of the UK.

The MP for Penistone and Stockbridge, Miriam Cates, welcomed the news:

Here are some of Sunak's biggest spending pledges:

  • Infrastructure - £4 billion: This will go towards the "levelling up" fund to finance local infrastructure improvement projects.

  • Coronavirus fight - £55 billion: This cash will fund programmes on mass testing, test and trace, personal protective equipment, and vaccines

  • Defence - £24 billion: The biggest investment in the defence budget in 30 years will see up to 10,000 thousand jobs created annually across the UK

  • Restart scheme - £2.9 billion over three years: This scheme is designed to help more than one million unemployed people find work. Those out of work for over 12 months will be provided with "regular, intensive" jobs support tailored to their circumstances.

  • Prisons - £4 billion: This cash is designed to help create 18,000 new prison places across England and Wales.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak Credit: HM Treasury
  • Education - £2.2 billion: Some of this cash will contribute to rebuilding 500 schools over the next decade.

  • Job Centre Plus - £1.4 billion: The government is providing cash to job centres to increase capacity so they can deal with the surge in people searching for work.

  • Kickstart scheme - £1.6 billion: This will fund the creation of up to 250,000 new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.

  • Skills support - £375 million: Some £138 million of this will be spent on the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which offers free college courses to adults without A-level or equivalent qualifications. £127 million will be invested in work academies and traineeships.

  • Devolved administrations: £2.4 billion for Scotland, £900 million for Northern Ireland and £1.3 billion for Wales.