RED Wall Tories will be able to benefit from a new £4billion ‘Levelling Up Fund’ announced by the Chancellor today.
Rishi Sunak revealed a fresh pot of cash for local projects to try and help the areas which have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, and which for years have lagged behind the rest of the UK.
A joint fund from the Treasury, Department for Transport and Communities Department will help give cash to new roads, railway station upgrades, libraries and high streets.
Mr Sunak told MPs today as part of his latest one-year spending review: “This government is funding the things people want and places need.”
But the pot won’t be available and open for bids until next year.
The Chancellor said: “Today I’m announcing a new Levelling Up Fund worth £4bn. Any local area will be able to bid directly to fund local projects.
“The fund will be managed jointly between the Treasury, the DfT and the MHCLG – taking a new, holistic, place-based approach to the needs of local areas.
“Projects must have real impact. They must be delivered within this Parliament. And they must command local support, including from their Member of Parliament.”
A major new national infrastructure bank will be based in the north of England to help with the fund – opening in the spring of 2021.
£5billion for flood defences was announced too, alongside £1.9bn for electric vehicle charging points and infrastructure.
It came as one of the highlights of a dire economic update from the Chancellor to MPs this afternoon.
In a gloomy statement he told the nation:
- The Government is on track to dish out a huge £280bn to get our country through coronavirus this year alone – and £18billion is planned for next year
- The nation’s debt is forecast to continue rising in every year, reaching 97.5 per cent of GDP in 2025-26
- The economy will shrink by 11 per cent this year – the largest fall for more than 300 years
- Unemployment will rise to a peak of 7.4 per cent – 2.6million people – by the second quarter next year
- NHS staff to get pay RISE but millions of public sector workers face pay freeze
- 2million will get a National living wage hike to £8.91 an hour
- Foreign aid will be cut to 0.5 per cent of GDP next year – but he hopes to raise it back again afterwards
- A £4billion ‘levelling up’ fund to help areas in the North hit hardest by the pandemic
- Day to day public spending is up overall in real terms by 3.8 per cent, or £14bn more
- Manifesto promises kept on schools, hospitals and police funding
But Labour blasted the plans as an opportunity for MPs to beg for ministers’ cash help.
Annelise Dodds lashed out: “The Levelling Up Fund the Chancellor just announced – his rabbit out of the hat – yet again involves MPs, just as with the Beechings reopening programme, going to Ministers and begging for support for their areas.
“Rather than that change being driven from local communities. So much for taking back control, this about the centre handing over support in a very top down manner.”
Did you miss our previous article…