Northern Ireland omitted from Levelling Up funding due to “lack of working executive”

Northern Ireland omitted from Levelling Up funding due to “lack of working executive”

There has been harsh criticism for Northern Ireland being left out of a £1 billion funding scheme because of the ongoing stalemate at Stormont.

This week, the Department for Levelling Up announced funding for 55 projects across Great Britain, however it added that no money was being provided to Northern Ireland “at this time” because of the collapse of Stormont.

Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, said the money would “create new jobs and opportunities, power economic growth, and revitalise local areas”.

However, commenting on this decision, Retail NI Chief Executive, Glyn Roberts said this was a “deeply disappointing and disgraceful decision” by the UK Government.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts.

“Much of this funding would have helped with much-needed efforts to regenerate our local high streets and town centres,” he said.

“While it is crucial we get Stormont restored, its absence should not be a reason for not proceeding with these projects. Yet again local small businesses and independent retailers are losing out compared to their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.”

There was cross-party criticism from the Northern Ireland political parties, with many saying the move was “economic blackmail”.

The Department for Levelling Up said that given the current absence of a working executive and assembly the government was “not proceeding with this round of the Levelling Up fund at this time”.

“We will continue to work closely with projects and places in Northern Ireland that were awarded a total of £120 million in the first two rounds of the fund,” it added.