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 Crawley.
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 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.
Cllr Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development said: “Labour supports funding for every region but it is crucial that it is done transparently, fairly and with a say for local communities. This Government is pitting regions and nations against each other for money that should reach communities as a matter of course.
“Despite Crawley being one of the hardest hit economies across the country we have been put in category 3 for allocation of support. That cannot be right and leaves Crawley short-changed when we should be one of the most deserving areas for funding.