Expenditure on local environments

Will Chapman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I notice from your website that DCLG are spending an estimated £8bn a year on local environments and that the department aim to provide your partners with the resources and support to meet their targets to create cleaner, safer and greener places where people want to live not leave.

Could you please provide a breakdown of how and where the £8 billion is spent and how decisions are made where to allocate funding.

If RDAs are involved in the process, how much of the money is effectively ring fenced by the Treasury deciding which projects are supported and, if ring fencing is common, how do local authorities apply for funding for projects?

Yours faithfully,

Will Chapman

Alex Lim, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Dear Will,

I have received your FOI request as below in relation to expenditure on
local environments. To assist in responding to your query, I would be
grateful if you could clarify the period to which it applies.

The figure of £8bn may be historic and therefore refer to spend in a
previous period (possibly 2005). Is your request in relation specifically
to the £8bn figure or would you like to know current spend and how it is
allocated. It may be helpful if you could let me know where on the website
the £8bn figure comes from.

Kind regards.
Alex

Alex Lim
Renewing Neighbourhoods Division
Local Economic Development and Renewal Directorate
Communities and Local Government
Eland House, Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU
020 7944 8164
[email address]

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Dear Alex,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

First let me give you the url that quotes the £8bn figure: http://www.communities.gov.uk/communitie....

You asked for clarification as to the period I am requesting information. My prime interest is the most current period. I would like to understand how funds for improvements for local environments/green space/urban renewal/sustainable communities, etc. are allocated and distributed and, importantly, how overall expenditure is broken down.

Additionally, I am trying to understand the process involved if, for example, a local authority wanted funding from this £8bn pot to, let's say, improve public access to a little-used canal towpath and to convert a redundant industrial site to a canal-side recreation area.

Yours sincerely,

Will Chapman

Dear Alex Lim,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

First let me give you the url that quotes the £8bn figure:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/communitie....

You asked for clarification as to the period I am requesting
information. My prime interest is the most current period. I would
like to understand how funds for improvements for local
environments/green space/urban renewal/sustainable communities,
etc. are allocated and distributed and, importantly, how overall
expenditure is broken down.

Additionally, I am trying to understand the process involved if,
for example, a local authority wanted funding from this £8bn pot
to, let's say, improve public access to a little-used canal towpath
and to convert a redundant industrial site to a canal-side
recreation area.

Yours sincerely,

Will Chapman

Alex Lim, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities



Will

Thank you for the further clarification. Can I just check a couple of
further points to ensure we can respond to request correctly:

* When you ask how this is allocated, do you mean to local authorities
(i.e. who gets what and why)?
* You've asked how this expenditure is broken down, I presume this means
across the four broad areas you mention?

Kind regards
Alex

Alex Lim
Renewing Neighbourhoods Division
Local Economic Development and Renewal Directorate
Communities and Local Government
Eland House, Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU
020 7944 8164
[email address]

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Alex Lim, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities


Will,

Apologies, can I also confirm it is the funding that CLG spends which you
are concerned with?

Thanks
Alex

Alex Lim
Renewing Neighbourhoods Division
Local Economic Development and Renewal Directorate
Communities and Local Government
Eland House, Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU
020 7944 8164
[email address]

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Dear Alex,

Yes, I am interested in the amount and method of the disposition of funds managed by CLG for 'neighbourhood improvment'.

Yours sincerely,

Will Chapman

Alex Lim, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Dear Will

You contacted us indicating that you would like to understand how funds
for improvements for local environments/green space/urban
renewal/sustainable communities are allocated and distributed, and how
overall expenditure is broken down. Your request has been considered under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Unfortunately, we do not hold information providing a full and detailed
breakdown of funds that are spent on local environments, but are able to
provide general details on how funds are allocated and distributed.

As there are not specific funding streams which correspond exactly to the
areas you mention, it is not possible to provide an exact breakdown of
funding for these precise areas. For example, some funding used to improve
local environments will come from general Government grant to local
authorities, but we do not hold information which breaks down this spend
into the areas you mention. I should also clarify that the £8bn figure
you saw on the website referred to a broad estimate of total spend on
local environments across the public sector (i.e. including local
authority spend, spend of other Government departments, etc.). It did not
refer to any ‘pots’ that could be bid for – and there is no such pot
in existence. You have asked specifically about funds managed by CLG. I am
also afraid we do not have a breakdown / methodology of how the original
£8bn estimate was calculated.

We are able to provide an overview of the main ways in which the most
relevant funding is allocated and distributed, which I hope is helpful.
There are three main ways in which CLG funding for local environments is
currently allocated / spent:

* Through general funding for local authorities: CLG provides funding
for local authorities to fund a range of services, as part of the
Local Government Finance Settlement. A proportion of this funding will
be used by local authorities to maintain and improve local
environments. Further details on the system through which local
government is financed is available via the CLG website:
[1]http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/
* Through Area-Based Grant and LAAs: Area Based Grant is a general grant
allocated directly to local authorities as additional revenue funding
to areas. It is allocated according to specific policy criteria rather
than general formulae. Local authorities are free to use the all of
this non-ringfenced funding as they see fit to support the delivery of
local, regional and national priorities in their areas, which may
include the improvement of local environments. Area Based Grant
includes some funding provided by CLG which is intended to support
neighbourhood improvements, including of the environment. However, as
above local authorities have the flexibility to use funding to meet
local priorities. More details on Area Based Grant and how it is
allocated are available at:
[2]http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgover...

Area Based Grant will, in part, be used to support the targets set
out in each area’s Local Area Agreements. LAAs set out the priorities
for a local area agreed between central government and the local area (the
local authority and Local Strategic Partnership) and other key partners at
the local level. These priorities may include, for many areas, the
improvement of local environments. More information on LAAs (including
links to details of the LAA in your area) is available at:
[3]http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgover...

* Through specific programmes focused on local environments /
neighbourhood improvement: CLG also funds some specific programmes
which aim to drive improvements in neighbourhoods. These include:

- Groundwork: CLG is supporting Groundwork (a major environmental
charity) with a £14m grant in 2008/9, to support their activities in
engaging local communities in delivering environmental improvements in
their areas. As part of Groundwork’s wider funding, this will be
allocated to the regional Groundwork Trusts (on the basis of both levels
of deprivation and the performance of trusts) who lead on developing local
programmes of activity. More details on their work is available at:
[4]http://www.groundwork.org.uk/

- New Deal for Communities: The NDC Programme is a ten year
programme set up in 2001, providing 39 of the poorest urban neighbourhoods
with the resources to tackle their problems in an intensive way through
local partnerships. The programme targets a range of outcomes, including
the quality of local environments, in specific deprived neighbourhoods.
Approximately £240m will be spent in 2008/9. Eligibility for NDC funding
was determined according to levels of deprivation, geographic coverage,
and the strength of the proposed strategy. Each individual NDC agrees a
delivery plan for improving their area, and has significant flexibility in
using funding to deliver the aims / objectives set out within that
delivery plan.

- Special Grants Programme: The SGP supports innovative work by
voluntary and community sector organisations in England, exploring diverse
ways of involving people in improving the quality of their
communities. In 2008/9 approximately £700,000 will be provided to a range
of third sector organisations who successfully bid for support. They
include organisations such as BTCV and Living Streets who focus on
improving local environments / neighbourhoods, and work across the
country.

You also asked a couple of specific questions on ring-fencing of RDA
funding and how a local authority would access funding for converting a
redundant industrial site into a recreation area. On the first, RDA
funding is not ringfenced for specific projects by the Treasury, and RDAs
will spend resources in line with the aims set out in their Corporate
Plan. If you would like more detail on how to access RDA funding I would
recommend contacting your RDA ([5]http://www.englandsrdas.com).

On the second, as above a local authority may be able to support this kind
of activity through mainstream and ABG resources, particularly where it
fits with priorities set out in their LAA. They may also be able to work
in partnership with wider regeneration partners, such as RDAs and English
Partnerships to develop proposals where these fit with their key aims /
priorities.

As an organisation we aim to be as helpful as possible in the way we deal
with requests for information under the FOI Act. If, however, you are not
satisfied with the way in which your request has been handled or the
outcome, you may request an internal review within two calendar months of
the date of this letter. Information about the Department's review
procedures and how to apply for an internal review of your case can be
found on the Department's website. This also explains your right to apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision in the event that
you remain dissatisfied following the Department's review.

I hope this is a helpful response.

Regards

Alex Lim
Renewing Neighbourhoods Division
Local Economic Development and Renewal Directorate
Communities and Local Government
Eland House, Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

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