To the battalions! Yet another Tory row is unfolding, this time over the thorny issue of funds for deprived communities. ‘Levelling-up cash favours south east over red wall’ roars the headline of today’s Times. Inside are anonymous Conservatives aplenty, full of righteous anger and indignant quotes. Tuesday saw the announcement of the second round of cash payments from a £2 billion-plus levelling up fund, shared between 111 communities across the UK. In England 52 Tory constituencies benefit, more than twice as many as those represented by Labour MPs – though there are obviously many more Conservative MPs across the country.
And clearly a number of them feel as though their interests have not been properly looked after, judging by some of the irate messages which Mr S has received. ‘It’s extreme naivety – they’ve gone to sleep at wheel’ complains one 2019-er in a non red wall seat. ‘The vast majority of marginal majority Conservative MPs have been shafted and got no funds’ they continued, adding ‘Many Conservative MPs with over 20,000 majorities have been successful’ as have ‘Labour MPs with marginal seats.’ It hasn’t escaped the ire of some that Richmond, Yorkshire (Conservative majority: 27,210) and represented by one R Sunak is among the constituencies set to benefit. Whose ear did they have to bend for that?
Of the 80 successful bids in England, only half are in the 100 most deprived areas of the country. Affluent areas such as Rutland, North Somerset and Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, have been handed cash. Such problems were also noted in the first round of Levelling Up funding, when there were criticisms that more money was given to the south on methodology that did not rank areas on deprivation levels.