The allocation of post-Brexit government cash has been branded a “stitch-up” by a Coventry councillor after the city was snubbed from a list of 100 priority places.
A £220 million support package is offered through the UK Community Renewal Fund which is intended to replace money received from the European Union.
Funding will be used to invest in skills, local business, communities and support people into employment and will be made available throughout 2021/22.
A list of 100 priority places for funding was released by the government last month including Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton; but Coventry has missed out.
Priority places have been based on an index of economic resilience which measures productivity, household income, unemployment, skills and population density.
But city councillor Ed Ruane branded it “scandalous” Coventry has been omitted, based on the most recent deprivation stats, calling for a new ‘fair funding’ formula.
He said: “The level of weighting given to those in the top 100 priority places effectively means that those not in the top 100 stand no chance in making a successful bid as it doesn’t match the funding criteria based on geography.
“All I’m asking for is fairness and transparency to be applied so Coventry can have the opportunity to access this funding.
“At the moment 28 out of Coventry’s 195 neighbourhoods (14%) are amongst the most deprived 10% in England. The government’s very own data on measuring deprivation, unemployment, low educational attainment, poor housing indicates that Coventry is a priority area.”
The government has insisted those outside the priority list may still receive funding.
Coventry council said it has still submitted a funding bid.
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration said: “We are not dancing to the government’s tune on this, but what we are doing – as always – is working hard on behalf of every single person that lives in this city to get the best that we can.
“We might not be in the top 100 according to government, but we aren’t making it easy for them. We have still submitted a bid and we think it’s a strong bid.
“We have a very good track record of attracting grant to this city including hundreds of millions of pounds for city centre redevelopments through schemes like Regional Growth Fund, Growth Deal and Getting Building Fund, and most recently we secured the last available European funding for the city – almost £10m which will provide advice and grants for businesses as well as providing them with help with training for their staff.
“I will continue to fight hard for Coventry and not carp on the periphery.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said the formula used is designed to “reach the most in need”.
They added: “We are committed to transparency and have published a methodological note explaining how the 100 priority places were determined.
“The UK Community Renewal Fund will prioritise applications that target the top 100 places, alongside a good contribution to strategic fit and delivery/effectiveness. Applications from non-priority places with a strong alignment with strategic fit and good delivery/effectiveness may also receive funding.”
The West Midlands Combined Authority has been chosen as the lead authority locally to receive and assess bids to submit to government by June 18.
Keep up with all of the latest local news with our daily newsletter