Levelling Up: Rishi Sunak defends £2bn fund after Labour slams it as ‘Hunger Games-style contest’
Rishi Sunak has defended his latest levelling up plans after they came under fire from the Labour Party, who accused the government of unfairly favouring the south east of England over the north east.
The government yesterday announced they will funnel £2bn of investment into the country’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda to fund over 100 separate projects. Some £19m of the fund will go to the Prime Minister’s own constituency, Richmond, to help improve the Catterick Garrison town centre in North Yorkshire.
Lisa Nandy, shadow levelling up secretary, criticised the levelling up model. “It is in chaos, beset by delays and allegations of favouritism,” she said.
She also compared the plans to a “Hunger Games-style contest where communities are pitted against one another”.
Sunak, who is currently touring the north of England, defended the allocation of the funds, saying the north had received the most cash in terms of funding per person.
“Two thirds of all the levelling up funding is going to the most deprived parts of our country,” he said.
“Levelling up is about making sure people feel pride in the places they call home – it’s about driving jobs and investment.”
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, said in a blog post the announcement was “the final nail in the coffin”, after communities in the north of England have been neglected from the fund since 2019.
Labour have called north-east England “one of the big losers” in the levelling up funding scheme.
Michael Gove, levelling up secretary, argued that “the biggest winners” per capita were actually in the north west.
“It’s simply untrue that the levelling up fund is concentrated disproportionately on London and the south east,” Gove said.
He backed Sunak, telling Sky News that “objective criteria” determines where the government allocates its funds.
Breakdown of money awarded to each region:
- North West – £354,027,146
- South East – £210,467,526
- Wales – £208,175,566
- South West – £186,663,673
- Scotland – £177,206,114
- East Midlands – £176,870,348
- East – £165,903,400
- West Midlands – £155,579,834
- London – £151,266,674
- Yorkshire and the Humber – £120,619,162
- North East – £108,548,482
- Northern Ireland – £71,072,373
The £2bn investment comes as Sunak tries to build voter confidence by delivering on his promise of economic growth and more jobs in the UK.