Homelessness charities likely to miss out on levelling up funding, report warns

Homelessness charities are likely to miss out on levelling up funding because the issue is being ignored, despite the public feeling it is the most important part of the agenda, according to new research.

Analysis by the think tank NPC reveals that high-homelessness areas have so far been missing out on much-needed funding because the government is failing to consistently prioritise areas with the worst rates of homelessness across the UK.

The findings follow previous NPC research that found the three issues people considered most integral to whether or not their area had “levelled up” were homelessness, poverty and crime.

The report, Levelling Up and Social Needs: An Analysis of Government’s Progress, published today, comes before publication of a government white paper that NPC said was rumoured to make living standards a key priority.

Some of the most deprived areas in the UK are missing out of funding, NPC found.

While money has generally been going to places with higher rates of deprivation and crime in England, this is not the case in Scotland and Wales, with predominantly urban areas missing out.

Multiple wealthy areas with few social issues will receive large amounts of levelling up funding, NPC said.

For some places, such as the Isles of Scilly, this was due to unique circumstances.

For others, such as Lewes, Sussex, the amount of money it received was harder to explain, researchers found.

Meanwhile, the funding that is going to places with high social needs was not necessarily being spent on tackling social issues, the report says.

NPC’s findings reflect a general bias in the levelling up agenda towards physical infrastructure rather than social needs, with only two per cent of total funding going on social infrastructure so far.

In addition, Wales and Scotland are receiving less levelling up funding per person than England.

NPC said the government had an opportunity to address this through its delayed white paper and through the way it chooses to invest the remainder of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces EU funding, and future rounds of the Levelling Up Fund.

Leah Davis, head of policy and external affairs at NPC, said: “When you ask people how they would judge their area to have levelled up, they’ll tell you about the social issues in their area, like homelessness, crime and poverty.

“Yet so far, levelling up money has been focused on physical infrastructure, and we’re not seeing targeting towards places with higher rates of homelessness, despite these issues being what the public most care about.

“With a white paper imminent, and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund yet to be fully allocated, the government has a real opportunity to set this right.”

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