Welsh MP says levelling up fund is ‘completely corrupt’
Former Labour minister Sir Chris Bryant claimed the UK Government’s levelling up fund was “completely corrupt”, following the announcement of how the latest round of funding would be spent last night.
Tory backbenchers meanwhile told ministers they were disappointed their areas had not been selected for funding, claiming their local councils had worked “really hard” on bids.
The criticism came after ministers insisted areas outside of London and the South East received more money per capita in the second round of bidding.
A total of 11 projects in Wales have received grants worth £208 million from the second round of Levelling Up funding announced yesterday.
The UK Government said that over 100 projects across the UK would share £2.1 billion in funding, split between £672 million to develop better transport links, £821 million for community regeneration, and £594 million to go towards restoring local heritage sites.
‘Dollops of cash’
Rhondda MP Sir Chris told the Commons: “In the 18th century, a government minister used to stand at the end of the parliamentary session at the entrance to Westminster Hall and reward MPs who voted loyally with the Government throughout the year with dollops of cash.
“I am not trying to give ideas to the Government and I hope everybody would accept that is utterly corrupt.”
He added: “I also happen to think that the operation of the levelling up fund and the operation of the towns fund is completely corrupt because it is not based on need, it is not based on the poorest communities in the country, it is not based on levelling up.
“It is discretionary and it is competitive, which rigs itself deliberately against the poorest communities in the land, as we have seen over the last 24 hours.”
The Labour MP called for a debate in government time “on corruption in the operation of slush funds in this country”.
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt told Sir Chris he was “able and equipped” to investigate the matter further as chairman of the committee on standards, and insisted that bids for funding “were not assessed by ministers”.
She added: “I would finally say to him, because of the way he has put his question, that he has slight form in accusing people of doing things which on investigation they have turned out not to do.
“It was very recently he accused one of my colleagues of manhandling somebody who turned out not to have been handled at all. I would just urge a little caution in how he makes such accusations.”
Sir Chris accused Tory ministers of manhandling Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford through the voting lobby during a controversial vote on fracking last year.
Commons authorities investigated the claims and found no evidence that bullying took place.
Conservative MPs meanwhile aired their frustrations that levelling up bids in their areas were unsuccessful.
Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie said Stroud District Council “worked really hard” on its bid and that she wanted to ensure that people from the council could have meetings to “to improve our application”.
Conservative MP Robbie Moore (Keighley) said: “It is incredibly disappointing that Keighley was not successful in its bid for additional levelling up fund monies over and above the £33.6 million that had already been ring-fenced for the town through the towns fund.”
“After discussions with the department, I understand that Bradford council’s application for the funds was not detailed enough to meet the standard for a successful bid,” he said, asking for civil servants to write to the council “urgently” to explain how it could significantly enhance the quality of their bids.
Communities minister Lucy Frazer insisted areas outside London and the south east have received more money per capita from the second round of the levelling up fund.
Labour’s Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) called on the Government to “end this ridiculous charade of favouritism and truly level up places like Nottingham”.
But Ms Frazer replied: “I am sorry the honourable lady was not successful, but the area as a whole has been successful.
“As I mentioned, the areas outside London and the South East have received more per capita than London and the south east. I would recommend that she looks forward to the third round.”
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Politics is a contact sport, PPE taught us that, but they’re going to have to install VAR in the lobbies in future…
The tories are rotten to the core totally corrupt and are filthy vile SCUM
Oh it’s the ‘per capita’ deception again, you know the one I mentioned in another post today which they use to rouse up anger in England against Wales. Here it’s been deployed in a South East v the rest match. It’s a mathematical working which will always show higher populated areas appearing to get less per head than lower populated areas. A bogus argument convenient for those who wish to weaponise it.
What Sir Chris doesn’t say is the inequality in spending that £208m across Wales. Most of it is going to south Wales as usual including nearly a quarter of it (£50m) being spent on improving the rail link to Cardiff Bay. Perhaps there’ll be a bigger gravy train too for all the extra politicians they want in the Senedd.
Ah, I see Divide and Conquer still alive and Well in Cymru. The most effective weapon the English have long since used here. North vs South! When In reality the biggest danger to Wales has, and will always be, those to the east.
There’s more post-industrial poverty in the south-east so it’s reasonable that that part of the country should get more funding. What concerns me more is that the poverty never seems to go away…
All the UKs money is in the Treasury in the south east and they honestly believe it belongs to them. Never trust anyone with your hard earned cash…. there are too many sticky fingers around especially in the SE.
Grant Shapps says you’ve got to run a country somehow…clueless in the palace of wastemonster…
These decisions should be made at the Senedd & not in Whitehall. The UK is too overly centralised.
When even Tory mayors and MPs complain there isn’t much point in the Plastic Admiral shouting “squirrel” at Bryant.
This ‘leveling up’ fund bidding rubbish is always going to favour areas which have the money to put in a successful bid. It was reported this morning that one area spent £600,000 on a bid. That money could have been better spent elsewhere. If you are a struggling authority you are not going to have the money to compete. And ‘compete’ is the word – more Tory love for competition- that isn’t right. Why should areas that are already extremely poor have to bid for any future prosperity? We in Cymru ‘do not need this crap’ we are poor enough… Read more »