Yorkshire set to receive nearly £200m as £1.7 billion levelling up cash to be handed out across the country

Yorkshire is set to receive almost £200 million of levelling up money as part of the Government’s £1.7 billion first round of spending, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed at today’s Budget.

Yorkshire will get a £187 million share of the £1.7 billion due to be handed out across the four nations, with projects including a major waterfront extension in Doncaster and a refurbishment of Halifax Swimming Pool among the ten projects set to benefit.

The Treasury has also pledged that the cash will be used to improve transport connections across West Leeds and to help convert a derelict site in Wakefield into a new museum and art gallery.

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The news comes as the Chancellor promised to help families meet the rising cost of living as the economy continues on its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaving 11 Downing Street, London before delivering his Budget to the House of Commons. (PA)

Mr Sunak pledged to create the “stronger economy of the future” in a speech which he previously told Cabinet Ministers would have the key 2019 election pledge of levelling up running through it “like a golden thread”.

However amid the optimism, there was also acknowledgement of rising costs for businesses and households around the country, with rising inflation blamed on the global post-lockdown reopening.

Inflation was 3.1 per cent in September and is “likely to rise further” the Chancellor said, as the squeeze on energy and other products continues.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said the economy was expected to return to its pre-Covid level at the turn of the year and scaled down its assumption of the long-term scarring effect of Covid-19 on the economy from 3 per cent to 2 per cent.

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They also forecast a faster bounce- back than had previously been predicted, with growth this year now expected to be 6.5 per cent, rather than the old assumption of 4 per cent.

The Chancellor told MPs in the packed House of Commons: “Employment is up. Investment is growing. Public services are improving. The public finances are stabilising. And wages are rising.

“Today’s Budget delivers a stronger economy for the British people: stronger growth, with the UK recovering faster than our major competitors.

“Stronger public finances, with our debt under control. Stronger employment, with fewer people out of work and more people in work. Growth up, jobs up, and debt down: Let there be no doubt – our plan is working.”

Despite pledging money to projects across the UK, there was little more detail on the promised transport overhaul.

In the lead up to today’s speech it was briefed that billions would be put towards transport projects outside of London, including in South and West Yorkshire.

However, local politicians and other figures had been eager to hear any updates on the future of the Eastern Leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds and the promised Northern Powerhouse Rail project.

Mr Sunak was not able to give any more information and only said that the long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan will only be available “soon”.

In good news for pubs and consumers, Mr Sunak said steps would be taken to deliver the “most radical simplification of alcohol duties for over 140 years” with the tax now applied in accordance with how strong the drink is.

He told MPs: “Our new system will be designed around a common-sense principle: the stronger the drink, the higher the rate. This means that some drinks, like stronger red wines, fortified wines, or high-strength ‘white ciders’ will see a small increase in their rates because they are currently undertaxed given their strength.”

There will also be a new “draught relief” – a new, lower rate of duty on draught beer and cider, cutting the rate by 5 per cent.

“That’s the biggest cut to cider duty since 1923," he said.

"The biggest cut to fruit ciders in a generation. The biggest cut to beer duty for 50 years. This is not temporary, it’s a long-term investment in British pubs of £100 million a year. And a permanent cut in the cost of a pint by 3p.”