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MP calls for deprived areas to be helped first to create one-nation economy
THE Government came under fire last night as it emerged that the South-East had received more than seven times more cash than the North-East in a grant scheme for needy areas.
The latest slice of the Government’s £255m Growing Places Fund has seen £255m – 35 per cent of the total – ploughed into London and the South-East, while only £34m, or 4.5 per cent, came to the North-East.
Middlesbrough’s Labour MP Andy McDonald called for the coalition Government to start addressing the needs of the poorest areas of England rather than ploughing cash into the wealthy districts.
He said: “No wonder parts of the South-East don’t even think there’s been a recession. If you look at how the most deprived areas of the North-East have been affected by this Government’s policies, the losses per head of population in David Cameron’s constituency in West Oxfordshire are miniscule in comparison to the losses per head in places like Middlesbrough.
“For me this growing places fund is yet more evidence that the Government has no interest in the economic fortunes of places like Teesside and the North-East.”
However, James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South – one of just two Tory seats in the region – said: “The Growing Places Fund is a relatively small total pot compared to the Regional Growth Fund of £3.2bn, from which the north is doing better than the south.”
Mr Wharton wrote on the “Conservative Home” website last month that the North-East did not need investment, but support to rebalance its economy and it was getting it through the Regional Growth Fund and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
He wrote: “The long-term damage of the 'Conservatives hate the north' narrative can be seen in the way things are reported and we are fighting against a hostile tide much fo the time.
“When they hear the intellectually shallow 'this hits the North-East hardest' we want them to dismiss it as the rubbish it is.”
Toby Perkins, the shadow minister for small and medium sized enterprises, said the allocations from the Growing Places fund were evidence that the Government was creating a “two nation economy”.
Last week Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and former Bishop of Durham, told a conference that moving from his job in Durham to London felt like “going to a different country” with too much of the economic recovery being focused on London.
And research from Manchester University showed London’s economy had recovered to better levels than before the banking crash, while almost every other part of the UK has seen an economic decline.
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