Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be in the North East later today (Thursday, January 19) to talk to people about Levelling Up and government funding. 

It's understood that the PM will visit Hartlepool and Gateshead to speak to people about the Levelling Up agenda - following an announcement last night about £2.1bn worth of funding to projects across the UK. 

Questions have been raised about the disproportionate level of spending between the North and the South after the North East was handed just £108m of government cash.

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However, Mr Sunak said northern England had “disproportionately” benefited from the £2.1 billion of levelling up fund projects announced in the latest round.

The Prime Minister said: “We are completely committed to levelling up across the United Kingdom.

“If you look at how we are spending this money it is disproportionately benefiting people in the North East, the North West, and that’s great.”

He denied the funding allocations were motivated by an attempt to shore up support in southern Tory seats.

“I think around half the funding we have announced over the course of today, or both funds, has actually gone to places that are not controlled by Conservative MPs or councils,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone can say it’s being done on that basis, there’s a completely objective, transparent criteria.”

The Prime Minister has also had to defend his use of a jet to fly across the UK today.

Speaking at an event in Morecambe, he said: “I travel around so I can do lots of things in one day, I’m not travelling around just for my own enjoyment – although this is very enjoyable, of course.

“I’m travelling around so I can talk to people in Accrington this morning, then I’ve talked to you, then I’m going to get over to Hartlepool because I’m working on all of your behalves.

“Trust me, I’m working as hard as I can to deliver for you and I travel to make myself as effective as possible.”

Earlier, A Labour MP has raised concerns that the Prime Minister is expected to visit his constituency without notifying him in advance, as is conventional.

In the Commons, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said his local authority had raised the possibility of the visit with him, but he added: “I can tell you, I received no notification from 10 Downing Street that the Prime Minster intends to visit my constituency.

"Whether he actually arrives or not is another matter, but there seemed to be some conjecture about that in the local authority.

“But they had been told there was an intention to do so. What can I do to ensure that not only the Prime Minister but other ministers of the crown actually inform me when they plan to visit my constituency in future?”

Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton replied: “Mr Speaker has been very clear that Members, and particularly ministers, should inform Members in advance when they plan to visit their constituency.”

At Business Questions, Dame Diana Johnson raised the Prime Minister’s decision to fly to Blackpool on Thursday morning, asking whether he was “claiming his frequent flyer airmiles” after a similar flight to Leeds earlier this month.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt replied that ministers wanted to ensure that their transport is low cost and environmentally friendly “as it possibly can be”.

Rishi Sunak suggested an audience will understand why he cannot cut tax immediately because they are “not idiots”.

Asked in Morecambe whether he will cut taxes, he said: “When I was Chancellor I also really preferred it when the Prime Minister didn’t comment on tax policy.

“I’m a Conservative, I want to cut your taxes … I wish I could do that tomorrow, quite frankly, but the reason we can’t is because of all the reasons you know. You’re not idiots, you know what’s happened.”