England & Wales, Scotland Democracy, devolution and governance , Economy and regeneration

Budget March 2021 and placemaking – towards ever greater centralisation?

Summary

  • The March 2021 Budget has been characterised as broadly extending Covid-19 support whilst pushing the expenditure reductions and tax rises to pay for this back to the Spending Review in 2021/22 and beyond.
  • However, in pursuit of an emphatic UK Government commitment to ‘levelling up’, a number of new plans, policies and programmes were announced.
  • This briefing provides outlines of major place-based announcements – from the ‘Build Back Better: Plan for growth’ through the Levelling Up Fund, Community Renewal Fund, Towns Fund, Freeports to a number of reviews and studies.
  • These present a very large agenda of work for already hard-pressed local authorities and partners at all sub-national tiers in the UK – at a time when they are continuing to grapple with the pandemic, Brexit, and a range of other pressures. However, in the absence of addressing these issues, the centralisation already seen in Government’s response to Covid-19 will probably be enhanced and local freedoms and flexibilities further restricted.
  • This briefing will be of interest and some relevance to LAs across the UK and to intermediate tier institutions and place-based partners in business and third sector. Whilst, obviously, they will wish to respond to the opportunities the Budget has brought forward, if they are concerned about increasing centralisation, as important will be the impending Local Growth and Spending Reviews

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