The government is facing a High Court battle over the allocation of its £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund, amid claims it is funnelling money to constituencies for its own political benefit.
Judges have agreed to hear a case brought by campaign group the Good Law Project, which means the government will have to defend the criteria it used for prioritising the areas that would benefit from the fund.
The GLP said: “The huge £4.8bn fund pretends to be the centrepiece of a levelling up agenda – but we think it’s just a way to funnel money into constituencies of political benefit to the Conservative Party.”
The fund is supposed to provide cash for local projects in areas hit hardest by the pandemic, and where investment had lagged behind the rest of the UK.
It was cautiously welcomed by the voluntary sector when it was announced in November 2020.
But subsequent research by the not-for-profit think tank NPC in March this year warned that charities are unlikely to receive much of the funding earmarked, because there are fewer charities in the areas targeted by the fund.
Researchers found there were 28 per cent fewer local charities per 1,000 people in areas prioritised for the government's fund than in wealthier locations.
NPC said this implied there would be fewer chances for charity partnerships in the places where it mattered most.