Levelling up fund smells of ‘pork barrel’ politics – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Dr Olivier Sykes, Liverpool.

The allocation of 'levelling up' funds to Richmond, the consitutency of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, continues to attract criticism.

I READ with interest (The Yorkshire Post April 5) on the potential legal challenge to the Government’s so-called ‘Levelling Up’ fund.

As a Yorkshireman now residing in Merseyside, I have seen over the years how the EU always stood by our northern regions – for example, kick-starting the transformational recovery of the Liverpool area since the 1990s. The UK government has been less constant in its support.

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In the past decade of deep austerity cuts for many less prosperous areas, it even redirected EU funding towards more wealthy and often Tory leaning areas.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facinig criticism over the Government's 'levelling up' fund.

So sadly it comes as no surprise that the funding supposed to replace EU regional and regeneration support is mired in accusations it is being subverted to political ends by the ‘Brexit’ government.

There are certainly big questions to be answered around the so-called Towns Fund, and the Levelling Up fund. The fact Richmondshire, which contains Rishi Sunak’s own constituency, was placed in the highest priority group for levelling up support above less prosperous Barnsley, for example, sticks out like a sore thumb.

The potent whiff of ‘pork barrel’ politics – where taxpayers’ hard-earned money is showered on areas to try and boost support for the ruling party – stands in stark contrast to the previous EU funding system.

This allocated resources transparently on the basis of need and potential and was committed to areas for six to seven years. Just one more thing we have lost because of Brexit.

Barnsley has missed out on 'levelling up' funding.

Hotch-potch of councils

From: Jill Wells, Kirkbymoorside.

THE coronavirus crisis continues to be traumatic for individuals, families, communities and countries.

Yet the Government has chosen this time to force 
far-reaching changes in vital local services for which there is no popular demand.

Thirsk & Malton Labour Party is opposed to the piecemeal, haphazard reorganisation of local government. The pattern of local government across England is now a complete mess.

Unitary councils range in size from Rutland with 38,000 people to Birmingham with over a million.

Cambridgeshire with a population around 650,000 has an elected mayor, a combined authority, a county council, a unitary council and five district councils. Northamptonshire, with about 100,000 more people, is to be governed by just two unitary councils. What is the Government’s view on this nationwide hotch-potch? No-one knows – it promised to publish its views in a White Paper that has been delayed time and time again. 

Funding has a major impact on the quality and performance of local government. For every £1 of national financial support for local services in 2015, there was just 23 pence in 2020.  

 We are not opposed to change, but review and reform should be comprehensive, properly considered, involve citizens, and command public support.

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