A MULTI-million pound funding package is hanging in the balance after bureaucrats tinkered with the figures.

Rules that affect the way cash is distributed across European programmes could prevent cash flowing into the region by a tiny percentage.

The Tees Valley and Durham area could be entitled to £500m of economic development and regeneration cash over a seven-year period.

However, under current guidelines, the area is just above the threshold to qualify for the extra funding.

Areas at 75 per cent or below a European average figure linked to Gross Domestic Product will qualify, but the Tees Valley and Durham area is running at 75.9 percent.

The UK has an artificially inflated figure because two per cent is added to take account of the country's income from gas and oil revenue.

John Lowther, chief executive of the Tees Valley Joint Strategy Unit - the strategic planning arm of the five Tees Valley unitary councils - is urging members to lobby local MPs, the Government and the UK Commission for a change in the system.

Mr Lowther said: "The amount of funding at stake is immense - up to £500m over seven years to support vital economic development and regeneration projects.

"While we are not seeking to challenge the 75 per cent yardstick for eligibility, we do believe the system of adding the two percent is unfair."

The issue is expected to be raised by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and North Durham MP Kevan Jones in the Commons on October 11.