Ipswich has delivered just under a quarter of its planned improvement projects amid reports many schemes nationally are unlikely to be finished by their original deadline. 

The £25m Town Deal funding has been secured for projects that will make a difference in the town.

These range from projects to help the town recover after the Covid crisis and are mainly focused at Ipswich town centre and Waterfront areas. 

In its latest report, the National Audit Office (NAO) found 50% of the main construction contracts for Levelling Up Fund projects due to be completed by March 2024 had still not been signed. 

It also found that the bulk of the money allocated to the projects had still not been spent. 

NAO analysis found only 14% of the £1.6 billion allocated in the first round of the Levelling Up Fund in October 2021 had been spent by March this year, while 13% of the money announced for Town Deals in 2021 had been spent. 

A number of think tanks say the report is "damning", with NAO saying the original deadlines set by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) were "unlikely to be met".

David Pendlebury, of the New Economics Foundation, said: "This report is damning and shows everything that's wrong with the way Whitehall works - or refuses to work - with communities."

Ipswich council boss, Neil MacDonald, confirmed that three out of 11 projects have already been completed, which include turning the Old Post Office on Ipswich Cornhill into The Botanist, implementing the Integrated Care Academy at the University of Suffolk and introducing the Net Zero Skills Academy Tech Campus at Suffolk New College.   

The council recently announced the next step in spending Town Deal funds on improving shopping parades. 

Ipswich Star: Cllr Neil MacDonald, NewsquestCllr Neil MacDonald, Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr MacDonald said: "£25 million in Towns Deal funding was committed by the government in 2020 to enable many projects in Ipswich. 

“The first round of Local Shopping Parade improvements and Community Facilities funding is committed, with second-round Local Shopping Parade applications now open.  

“The Regeneration Fund to repurpose vacant town centre buildings is established and Digital Ipswich plans are well developed, with other projects such as Pauls Silo advancing. 

 “We are committed to the delivery of Ipswich projects as agreed with the Towns Deal Board.” 

A DLUHC spokesman disputed the figures and called them "out of date".

They continued: "In the eight months since March, DLUHC has paid over £1.5 billion of further funding out to local authorities.

"We continue to work closely with local authorities to support their delivery of their vital projects."