Rishi Sunak under fire over video claim that he diverted cash from deprived cities to Tory towns

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Rishi Sunak ‘caught on camera boasting he diverted cash AWAY from deprived cities towards more prosperous towns like Tunbridge Wells’

  • The former chancellor was filmed talking to activists in Kent last week
  • Said he changed public cash formulas to give towns ‘the funding they deserve’
  • Lord Goldsmith called it ‘one of the weirdest and dumbest things I’ve ever heard’
  • But Ben Houchen said Red Wall areas ‘aren’t urban’ as he defended chancellor 
  • Tees Valley mayor said comments were ‘exactly the whole point of levelling up’

Rishi Sunak is under fire from Tories and Labour today after he was recorded saying he had been working to divert funding from ‘deprived urban areas’ towards prosperous towns.

The former chancellor was filmed bragging that he had started changing public funding formulas when he was chancellor to ensure places like Tunbridge Wells receive ‘the funding they deserve’.

The New Statesman magazine, which obtained video revealing Mr Sunak’s remarks, said they were made to grassroots Tories in the Kent town on July 29.

It promoted criticism, with Foreign Office minister Lord Zac Goldsmith – a close ally of Boris Johnson – saying: ‘This is one of the weirdest – and dumbest – things I’ve ever heard from a politician.’

Jake Berry, the chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, said that in public Mr Sunak ‘claims he wants to level up the North, but here, he boasts about trying to funnel vital investment away from deprived areas’.

‘He says one thing and does another – from putting up taxes to trying to block funding for our armed forces and now levelling up,’ the Truss supporter said.

Labour said it was ‘scandalous’ that Mr Sunak was ‘openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers’ money to rich Tory shires’.

But his supporters insisted he was talking about moving money from big cities to smaller urban areas, one of the key aims of levelling up.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said’ Strangely enough, most Red Wall areas that voted Conservative for the first time in 2019 – who have been left behind for decades -aren’t urban/city areas. Exactly the whole point of levelling up.

 ‘They should post the full clip, which would show Rishi Sunak talk about the local council funding formula and how it discriminated against non metropolitan areas in favour of cities – by giving them less money for things like adult and children services, highways and fire.’

The former chancellor was filmed bragging that he had started changing public funding formulas when he was chancellor to ensure more prosperous towns receive 'the funding they deserve'.

The former chancellor was filmed bragging that he had started changing public funding formulas when he was chancellor to ensure more prosperous towns receive ‘the funding they deserve’.

Ben Houchen with Rishi Sunak

Zac Goldsmith

It promoted criticism from allies of Liz Truss, with Boris Johnson loyalist Lord Goldsmith calling it ‘one of the weirdest – and dumbest – things I’ve ever heard from a politician’. But Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said’ Strangely enough, most Red Wall areas that voted Conservative for the first time in 2019 – who have been left behind for decades -aren’t urban/city areas. Exactly the whole point of levelling up.’

In the video, Mr Sunak told Tory supporters in affluent Tunbridge Wells: ‘I managed to start changing the funding formulas, to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserve because we inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone.

‘I started the work of undoing that.’

The remarks from last week came as Mr Sunak tries to make up ground against Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to win the backing of party members who will choose the next prime minister.

Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said: ‘This is scandalous. Rishi Sunak is openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers’ money to rich Tory shires.

‘This is our money. It should be spent fairly and where it’s most needed – not used as a bribe to Tory members.

‘Talk about showing your true colours…’

The need to improve areas of the north and Midlands has proven an Achilles heel for both candidates.

Liz Truss U-turned to scrap a major part of a proposed ‘war on Whitehall waste’ this week after Tory critics warned it meant cutting the pay of millions of workers outside the South East, leading to an electoral disaster.

The Foreign Secretary announced plans to save up to £11billion with major reforms to Civil Service pay and conditions.

Some £8.8billion of savings was to come from axing national pay boards outside the South East and tailoring pay for new starters to reflect local private sector rates.

But in order to save the colossal sum experts said the scheme would have to reduce pay for all public sector workers – including teachers, nurses and soldiers – and not just civil servants. This was denied by Team Truss.

But she reversed the plan today after criticism from Northern Tories and supporters of Rishi Sunak over how it would be seen in the Red Wall seats the party took from Labour at the last election, at a time of growing cost-of-living fears.

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