Wednesday 3 March 2021 / 6:06 PM Steve Reed

Sunak siphons levelling-up funds into his constituency…where you can currently buy a house for £2.5 million

Sunak siphons levelling-up funds into his constituency…where you can currently buy a house for £2.5 million

 

The Government’s new flagship Levelling Up Fund will prioritise the Chancellor’s own local authority, where houses are currently on sale for £2.5 million, for regeneration funding ahead of more deprived areas, according to Labour Research.

 

The Chancellor’s own local authority of Richmondshire, as well as the constituencies of four other members of the Cabinet, are prioritised to bid for Levelling Up Funding.

 

Newark and Sherwood, Pembrokeshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Great Yarmouth local authorities, which include the constituencies of the Chancellor, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, Scottish Secretary Allister Jack and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis respectively, were all included in the first tier of eligibility for priority funding, under plans announced by the Chancellor at the Budget.

 

Their areas were selected for funding ahead of authorities such as Barnsley, Flintshire, Coventry, Plymouth, Salford and the Wirral, all of which were included in the second tier for priority funding.

 

The Government will put MPs at the centre of the bidding process for the Levelling Up Fund, leading to fears of a conflict of interest as Conservative Ministers funnel money away from areas with higher levels of need towards their own constituencies.

 

Labour has today demanded the Government publish the metrics used to determine areas for priority funding. Bids will be determined by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

 

The news follows months of controversy after a town in the Communities Secretary’s own constituency, Newark, was selected for funding as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund by the then communities minister Jake Berry, while Jenrick selected Darwen, in Berry’s constituency.

 

Ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will determine bids under a number of criteria.

 

Steve Reed MP, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:

 

“This research raises big questions marks over the fairness of the Government’s regeneration funding schemes.

 

“Just months after the Government was criticised for diverting funding away from towns that desperately needed it, we discover that Cabinet Ministers own constituencies now stand to benefit ahead of more deprived areas.

 

“This Government should be investing to rebuild the foundations of our economy, but they’re pulling the country further apart by pitting regions and nations against each other for crucial funding then diverting the money to serve their own party’s needs.”