Wigan MP criticises £1.6bn fund for left-behind towns as inadequate

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has slammed the Government's plan to invest £1.6bn in left-behind communities and towns.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 8:50 am
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 9:57 am
Lisa Nandy MP

Ms Nandy said the Stronger Towns Fund, of which £281m will be allocated to the North West, was "stitch-up politics".

Other news: Wigan's hospital wards too full for safetyOther figures said the amount being doled out was pitifully inadequate compared to the enormous cuts made to local authority budgets across the region in the age of austerity.

Wigan Council alone, for example, will have had to find £160m of savings by 2020.

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Ms Nandy suggested on social media the only reason Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to give out the money was so Labour MPs in Leave-voting constituencies might back her withdrawal agreement for Britain's departure from the European Union (EU).

She said: "After decades of neglect a one-off payment designed to help the Prime Minister ahead of a key Brexit vote will fail, and it will confirm to people in our towns that the government is not serious in its commitment to our communities."

As well as the money being dished out by region another £600m will be available through a bidding process to communities in any part of the country.

The cash is expected to be given out over several years, though no more specific timeframes have yet been set out.

A stream of opposition MPs across the country said the regional amounts were nowhere near enough to cover the enormous holes in town hall budgets due to cuts since 2010.

Labour's leadership did not warmly welcome the fund either, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell labelling it "a desperate bribe".