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Port of Dover with lorries and ferries waiting

A £45m scheme to improve border control in Dover is one of the major recipients of the government’s second round of levelling up funding.

The government has committed up to £2.1bn through round 2 of its Levelling Up Fund to projects to create jobs and grow the UK economy.

Dover will benefit from more border control points and a new exit route to help the port operate more efficiently. 

Opportunity spread

A total of 111 areas have been awarded funding to spread opportunity to historically overlooked areas, the government claimed.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said the programme would reach more parts of the country, building optimism and pride.

“Through greater investment in local areas, we can grow the economy, create good jobs and spread opportunity everywhere,” he said.

Other infrastructure, training and decarbonisation projects are also beneficiaries, including:

  • Belfast International Airport, which will receive £2.3m to purchase electric buses and deliver new sustainable fuel sources as part of its decarbonisation project
  • Nearly £27m for a new roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands, supporting supply chains, businesses and residents
  • More than £9m for Blaenau Gwent’s new engineering campus for 600 young people offering the next generation of engineers an extensive programme of apprenticeships
  • £15.6m for the Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre in North Devon to research green technology and attract additional investment, and create 100 high skilled jobs

According to the Local Government Chronicle, the Department for Levelling Up received 525 bids last August, meaning just over a fifth were successful.

The fund was first announced at the 2020 spending review and is worth £4.8bn across the UK over four years. Of this £1.7bn was distributed to 105 projects through the first round in autumn 2021.

The announcement means that there is £1bn left in the fund.

Councils will need to spend the money by a deadline of March 2025.

More to come

The Evening Standard reports that chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed a further round of the levelling up fund, and called it a “major down payment on local jobs, growth and regeneration”.

However, there has been criticism that the allocation of money is “making a mockery” of levelling up with the southeast handed more regeneration money than the northeast, Yorkshire and the East and West Midlands, reports The Times.

Responding to the announcement, Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary said the fund was “in chaos, beset by delays and allegations of favouritism.”