Levelling Up Minister Says New Local Funding Is “Surest Way” To Tackle Rising Bills
The government announced its second round of levelling up funding on Thursday. (Alamy)
Dehenna Davison, a levelling up minister, has said that closing regional divides in pay and productivity is the “surest way to grow our economy and combat rising bills”.
Writing for The House magazine, Davison said the government’s attention has been “firmly fixed on our levelling up missions” which had only been “made more urgent by the difficulties we face today”.
“Closing the regional gaps in pay, employment, and productivity is still the surest way to grow our economy and combat rising bills,” she wrote.
The government has today announced more than £2.1 billion in funding shared between over 100 projects.
Successful applicants for levelling up funds included the Eden Project in Cornwall, which will get £50 million to develop a derelict seafront site, and Belfast International Airport, which is getting funding to make it “one of the greenest airports in the UK”.
“Initiatives like this hold the key to unlocking a brighter future for places right across our United Kingdom. Real change in towns and cities that have gone overlooked and under-invested in for too long,” Davison continued.
“As we whip inflation and tackle the rising cost of living, there will be no waning in our ambition to level up. Four years ago, this government promised the British people a stronger, fairer, more united country. It is a promise we are going to keep.”
The levelling up minister, who is also MP for the 'Red Wall' seat of Bishop Auckland, pointed to new “trailblazer” devolution deals in Manchester and the West Midlands and the introduction of new freeports as further signs of the government delivering on its promises.
Labour has heavily criticised the government’s levelling up funding, claiming that it disproportionately benefits London and the South East.
Alex Norris, Labour's shadow levelling up secretary, told the House of Commons that with today's funding announcements "even the winners are losers".
"There are serious questions to be answered. Levelling up is a failure. The Government are going backwards on their flagship missions,” he said.
He pointed out that "only half of the successful bidders" for levelling up cash came from the "poorest 100 communities", and claimed the money distributed was less than the amount cut from local authorities over recent decades.
"The cut to local government is £15 billion over the last decade or so. Today's announcement gives back £2.1 billion. They have nicked a tenner from our wallets and they expect us to be grateful for getting less than two quid back,” Norris continued.
Responding to Labour’s urgent question on the funding, levelling up minister Lucy Frazer said that in the latest round "per capita every region got more than London and the South East".
"He forgot to mention that the Leader of the Opposition had a successful bid in his constituency. He forgot to mention that the shadow secretary of state in Wigan got £20 million,” she continued.
"He forgot to mention that Nottingham North got £18 million in round one and therefore is benefiting from the Government's levelling up programme."
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