‘Leveling’ funds given to local councils of conservative ministers | Local government
Two councils in England represented by Conservative ministers have received money under the government’s flagship ‘race to the top’ fund despite being among the least disadvantaged fifths of local authorities in the country.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s Bromsgrove constituency secured £ 14.5million in the first installment of money announced under the scheme.
Central Bedfordshire, which has received £ 26.7million in leveling funding for improved transport and a community welfare center, is partly represented by Nadine Dorries, the secretary for culture.
Lewes City Council, represented by Tory MP Maria Caulfield, received the 9th per capita award, despite being among the least disadvantaged 40% of local authorities. Lewes has received funding for local seafood industries and will also benefit from an offer from East Sussex for a new road bridge at Seaford.
A number of heavily deprived areas have received big awards, including Burnley and Stoke-on-Trent, which won £ 19.9million and £ 56million respectively.
Alex Cunningham, Labor MP for Stockton North, which includes an area that has lacked funding, said: Politics is the name of the game.
“I think it is high time that the Prime Minister, Chancellor and the leveling-up secretary made it clear and explained to people in Billingham and other areas which are experiencing significant levels of deprivation but have missed funding indispensable, why they feel like places like Yarm and Eaglescliffe in the Tees Valley, and Bromsgrove and Central Bedfordshire beyond, deserve more than they are leveling money.
The government’s leveling fund is designed to tackle regional inequalities by investing in infrastructure that “makes a region proud,” according to the program’s prospectus.
Slightly less than half of the 65 English local authorities that will benefit from the funding announced in last week’s budget are among the fifth most deprived in the country.
However, Bromsgrove, Central Bedfordshire and the Isles of Scilly – which are to receive funds for ferry service – are among the least deprived in the country.
Although more labor councils than those controlled by the Tories received funding in this first installment, the Tory councils did better on a per capita basis at £ 93 per capita compared to £ 65 per capita for labor councils. Councils without global oversight have received £ 102 per capita while the two Liberal Democrats announced so far, Eastbourne and Hinckley and Bosworth, are expected to receive £ 183 per capita.
When funding was initially allocated to a county council or an urban area, the Guardian’s analysis split the funding among lower-level councils that will benefit from a program.
The announced funding is part of the Conservative Party’s broader “upgrading agenda”. Other announcements have already been made under the Cities Fund and the future Main Streets Fund, while another pot, the £ 220million Community Renewal Fund, has yet to be announced.
The first tranche of the £ 4.8billion leveling fund announced last week included a Beatles-inspired mega attraction on Liverpool’s waterfront and the reopening of the Whorlton Bridge over the River Tees
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Leveling, Housing and Communities said: “This analysis is nonsense. The upgrade fund selection process is transparent, robust and fair, and we publish the criteria on gov.uk.
“The first round of funding will help ensure a more equitable distribution of opportunities across the UK by empowering local leaders, improving public services and restoring pride in place. “