Ashfield among East Midlands' 'deprived areas 'locked out'of Levelling Up' fund, Salvation Army warns

Ashfield is among the deprived areas of the East Midlands that will not benefit from the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ fund – a charity is claiming.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 9:07 am

The Salvation Army has identified the district, along with eight other locations, that it says will not gain from the £4.8 billion cash, according to a report released today (Wednesday.)

Neighbouring Bolsover, along with North East Derbyshire, South Derbyshire, Amber Valley, Corby, South Holland, West Lindsey, and Melton were also identified as ‘lower priority’ for the coffers earmarked for investment and infrastructure.

The Salvation Army says these areas are the ones most needing the “highest level of support to reverse spiralling, economic decline.”

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Sutton Town Centre - one of the town's in Ashfield - an area identified by the Salvation Army.

The report, ‘Understanding People, Understanding Places’, is the biggest social mapping exercise in The Salvation Army’s recent history. It analyses how and where to invest funding to help communities tackle poverty.

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The findings suggest that while coastal and rural areas feature some of the highest levels of deprivation, the East Midland areas are most likely to miss out on the investment.

The church and charity warns that unless the Government “rethinks” its Levelling Up agenda, entire communities will be “left behind, spiralling into further poverty, damaging thousands of lives”.

The charity found that the Government prioritised 93 areas with access to ‘Levelling Up’ funds, and identifies a further 45 in “urgent need” of investment, including Bolsover, Amber Valley, North East Derbyshire, Ashfield and South Derbyshire.

The Government’s analysis of need was mainly based on unemployment figures, but The Salvation Army report analysed local labour markets, highlighting how zero hours contracts, seasonal employment and shrinking traditional industries preventing people from finding stable and skilled employment.

Lack of access to childcare was a key barrier to finding work and it highlighted “a disproportional amount of funding” could be spent on roads and bridges, rather than projects to help people up-skill  and access employment.

Rebecca Keating, The Salvation Army’s Director of Employment Services, said: “The £4.8 billion earmarked for Levelling Up is a bold move by the Government and an opportunity to lift thousands out of unemployment, but we’re worried that this investment is missing many key areas in serious decline."

The Salvation Army is currently offering young people in the East Midlands the chance to gain employment with the church and charity as part of the Government’s Kickstart scheme.

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