UK News Sunak rejects ‘naked pork barrel politics’ claims over regeneration funding
Denying NHS staff pay rise in Budget ‘kick in the teeth’, says Labour
There has already been significant speculation about what Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce in next week’s Budget.It comes as the the i newspaper reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not include a pay boost for health workers in England, despite warnings it could cause an exodus among frontline staff.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has rejected claims that he has concentrated support in his Budget on Tory-supporting areas.
Mr Sunak announced in Wednesday’s Budget that more than £1 billion is to be given for 45 new so-called bespoke “town deals”, which support areas that do not qualify for city deal-style funding.
But at a Downing Street press conference, the Chancellor was asked why 40 of the 45 towns were represented by Conservative MPs and if this was a case of “naked pork barrel politics”.
Labour has also urged the Government to publish the metrics used to determine areas for priority for the new “levelling up” fund, after Mr Sunak’s constituency and those of four other Cabinet members were prioritised to bid.
Rishi Sunak categorically rules out speeding up lockdown exit
The Chancellor said the dates contained within Boris Johnson's roadmap for easing restrictions are the 'earliest dates by which things can happen'.The Chancellor said the dates contained within Boris Johnson's roadmap for easing restrictions are the 'earliest dates by which things can happen'.
These areas are in priority area one, ahead of authorities in Barnsley, Salford and the Wirral, included in the second tier of priority funding, according to research by Labour.
At the Number 10 briefing, Mr Sunak was asked by the Financial Times to reassure the public that the Government was using fair criteria to assess the eligibility of areas for the grants.
The Chancellor replied: “The formula for the grant payments for the new fund, to give them some capacity funding to bid for projects, is based on an index of economic need.”
Mr Sunak said this was “transparently published” by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and based on objective measures.
He added that this was areas that have received “capacity funding” to bid and that no area was excluded from bidding, but that some authorities may need “extra help”.
Aviva putting £10bn pension cash into green investments
The pensions and savings giant is committing a 'substantial' portion of the money it collects from auto-enrolment pension funds to investments which tackle climate change. Every employee over the age of 22 who earns more than £10,000 per year pays into an auto-enrolment pension, unless they opt out. © Provided by This Is Money And Aviva serves 3.5m of those workers, who will now be helping to fund the UK's green recovery from the pandemic as £10billion of their retirement savings are used to fund projects from nuclear power sites to energy-efficient housing.
But Labour’s shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said the research raises “big questions marks over the fairness of the Government’s regeneration funding schemes”.
“Just months after the Government was criticised for diverting funding away from towns that desperately needed it, we discover that Cabinet ministers’ own constituencies now stand to benefit ahead of more deprived areas,” he said.
The Chancellor said the measures he had announced were benefiting people in “every corner” of the country, referring to the sites for the eight freeports in England which were revealed as part of the Budget.
He told the news conference: “We have announced the location of our eight freeports in England today.
“They are spread in eight English regions – from Southampton to Teesside to Liverpool – across the country. And all of those areas are actually represented by a mix of both MPs and local authorities.
“Because what we are interested in is making sure that wherever you grow up, wherever you happen to live, that this Government is helping to provide opportunity for you and creating jobs in your area.
“I firmly believe that whether it is the levelling up fund, or our freeports initiative, or any of the other things we are doing, we are delivering and making good on that promise.”
Tories open up 13-POINT poll lead as Budget is given seal of approval .
Research by YouGov found Conservative support had surged four points to 45 per cent over the past week - while Keir Starmer's party tumbled to 32 per cent. The boost came as the study found the a warm reaction to Rishi Sunak's announcements freezing tax thresholds and hiking corporation tax, with Britons thinking it was fair by a margin of 55 per cent to 16 per cent.The government's net rating on handling the economy was plus nine, while the Chancellor's personal ratings have surged 14 points since last month.