Southwark politicians have hit out at the government’s new ‘levelling up’ fund, saying it is prioritising richer, Tory areas for regeneration funding.
One constituency to benefit from the flagship programme is chancellor Rishi Sunak’s home borough of Richmondshire district in North Yorkshire, which sits in the top fifth of England’s most prosperous places, compared to Southwark which is the 43rd most deprived.
Newark and Sherwood, Pembrokeshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Great Yarmouth local authorities, which include the constituencies of the Chancellor, 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.
Cllr Kieron Williams, Southwark Council’s leader, said: “As we come out of this global and national crisis we need funding for every region, but it is crucial that it is done fairly and with a say for local communities.
“Instead the government is pitting regions and nations against each other for money that should reach communities as a matter of course.
“Labour is calling on the government to invest in the public transport infrastructure, green energy, town centre renewal and innovation that will not just get our economy going again, but improve all of our lives and help tackle the climate emergency too.
“This includes projects like the Bakerloo Line Extension that could unlock thousands of jobs and homes in Southwark.
“Piecemeal pots of funding do not make up for a decade of cuts to local communities: it just highlights this government’s failure to bring prosperity to our cities and regions.”