Latest updates: prime minister to make series of visits across north-east to promote levelling up funding
This morning the Times has splashed on claims that the levelling up awards announced today favour the south-east of England over the Midlands and the north. In its story it says this has infuriated Tory MPs in “red wall” seats – constituencies outside the south-east that were won from Labour at the last election. It says:
The £2 billion-plus fund is shared between 111 communities across the UK as part of the second round of levelling-up funding. In England 52 Tory constituencies benefit, more than twice as many as those represented by Labour MPs.
However, Tory MPs in seats in the north and Midlands who missed out have accused Sunak of favouring the south. One Tory MP in the northwest said it made a “mockery of levelling up” and added: “A government that U-turned on a minister for the north is delivering for the south once again.”
Gove rejected claims that London and the south-east of England were benefiting most. He told Times Radio:
If you look per capita at the amount we’re spending, the biggest winners are those in the north-west and of course, yes there is some spending in London and the south-east, but there are some areas of deprivation in London and the south-east but it’s overwhelmingly the case that the areas that benefit the most are the north-west, the north-east and the east Midlands.
It’s simply untrue that the levelling up fund is concentrated disproportionately on London and the south-east.
He said it was right to spend levelling up money in the south-east because there were poor areas there. He said:
When you’ve got a region like the south-east which has such a large proportion of the UK population but also has within it particular areas of deprivation, it’s natural that there should be money there.
But the money in the south-east has gone to areas like Swale and Dover in Kent which I think, again, everyone would recognise those coastal communities in Kent are areas where levelling up is important.
He said that Wales was the area that had done best overall, on a per capita basis. This tweet, from Rob Parsons from the Northern Agenda newsletter, confirms this.