MPs call for clarity on levelling-up

A Lancashire MPs’ group has written to the chancellor Rishi Sunak seeking clarity over the government’s Levelling Up Fund and how its money will be allocated.

The £4.8bn fund will support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.

In a move that has sparked controversy, when it comes to bidding for the cash every local authority in England has been ranked in order of priority.

The MPs want to know on what basis parts of Lancashire have been awarded their relevant status.

They are also anxious that any local government reorganisation will not put Lancashire at a disadvantage and have an adverse impact on the county’s share of the cash.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris, who chairs the Lancashire All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), has signed the letter to the chancellor. He said: “As a group of MPs we are keen that Lancashire gets its fair share of government investment.

We are keen that Lancashire gets its fair share of government investment.

“At our last meeting we discussed how the Levelling Up Fund would be applied to our county, particularly if local government re-organisation takes place. We are seeking clarity on this from the chancellor.”

The letter to the chancellor says: “You will be aware that your Levelling Up Fund expects the main vehicle for bids to be councils with their priority having been predetermined in advance.

“It would be helpful, in order to maximise the fund for Lancashire to understand on what basis parts of Lancashire have been awarded their relevant status as this seems to be inconsistent.” 

It adds: “Lancashire is committed to local government re-organisation, having previously submitted a bid to reform from a two-tier model to a unitary model incorporating an elected mayor and combined authority.

“As such, further clarity as to what this would mean in terms of eligibility for bids both in advance and during any re-organisation process would also be helpful.

“This is particularly relevant as eligibility for the fund must also, and rightly, consider support from local MPs, and the bids an authority can make is dependent upon parliamentary boundaries.

“Clearly if a reorganisation bid for Lancashire was successful the current council boundaries would change quite dramatically making the current relationships with the MPs redundant.”

Mr Morris said: “This illustrates how Lancashire APPG brings Parliamentarians together to ensure our county has a stronger voice.

“We are hopeful the chancellor will take on board our points and avoid Lancashire receiving any disadvantage because it is moving towards new local government structures.”

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