How the council won millions in grant funding to improve Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Borough Council has a strong track record of gaining funding from the Government to help improve our town.
Only last week we won £422,000 from the Home Office to improve safety and security for residents around the Maple Park area.
Last month we were awarded £638,000 by the Government towards the Council’s work reducing rough sleeping in Ipswich.
Earlier this year the Council’s bid for Town Deal funding was successful, winning £25m for Ipswich – one of the highest awards in the country.
We’ve been awarded £9.8m funding from Homes England to provide a new country park, a bridge for vehicles and a new pedestrian bridge as park of the Ipswich Garden Suburb development.
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None of these grants were guaranteed. They required an application process where we could have been turned down. For example, a smaller bid to the Safer Streets Fund led by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner was not granted funding last year.
A key part of any application is providing confidence that our bid can be delivered so gaining funding is a government “seal of approval” that Ipswich Borough Council is a local authority that delivers on its promises.
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That probably counts double as Conservative governments rarely go out of their way to help Labour councils!
But, successful as we have been in winning funding, I have strong doubts about whether this is the best way of funding local services.
£422,000 to tackle crime is great – but would we need it if police numbers hadn’t been cut so much?
We can make a big dent in rough sleeping with £638,000 but if there was more affordable housing, better protection for tenants and properly funded mental health, drug rehabilitation and supported housing would there be such a big homelessness problem in the first place?
There will be real improvements in Ipswich from the £25m Town Deal but, in a normal year, Ipswich Borough Council is now receiving around £10m a year less from the Government than we were a decade ago.
It would be far more effective if the NHS, police and councils were just provided with secure, long-term funding, but that wouldn’t provide Ministers with the razzmatazz of announcing new grants, so I can’t see this changing any time soon.