West Lancashire Borough Council has called for government transparency after the area was not considered high priority for a share of a £4.8bn levelling up fund.
The methodology ranked West Lancashire as being in the middle group despite parts of the borough being among the country’s most deprived. The funding was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequor Rishi Sunak in the latest budget and is to be used towards focuses on town centre and high street regeneration, local transport, and cultural and heritage assets.
The announcement comes when the Government is also facing questions over its decision to award lucrative Town Deal funding almost entirely to areas with Conservative MPs.
According to the Financial Times, a former civil servant familiar with government thinking said it had probably used a heavy weighting for “access to services”, which favours rural areas with poor public transport links and facilities such as shops and pharmacies.
Labour MPs have questioned the allocations with many questions over the inclusion of Mr Sunak’s own constituency of Richmond as “category one” despite being the 251st most deprived place in Britain.
West Lancashire has been set within category two despite the fact that the borough is ranked 178 out of 326 on the England deprivation index with a significant part of the borough being in the top 20%.