Budget 2021 - live: Rishi Sunak accused of Tory favouritism in ‘level up’ cash allocation

Tom Batchelor and Sam Hancock
·1 min read
 (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
(PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak has been accused of “naked pork barrel politics” after billions of pounds of Budget handouts appeared to favour Tory-held constituencies.

At a Downing Street press conference this evening, the chancellor was asked why 40 of 45 places receiving £1bn of “towns fund” grants are represented by his own party’s MPs. The borough of Richmondshire – which falls within his North Yorkshire seat – has also been given higher priority for a new £4.8bn “levelling up fund” than struggling Barnsley.

Mr Sunak was asked to reassure the public that he was using “fair criteria” to assess eligibility.

The chancellor announced earlier the extension of both VAT cuts for the hospitality and tourism industries, as well as prolonging the end of the stamp duty holiday, in the so-called “fiscal firepower” Budget.

He told MPs, despite the fact 700,000 people have lost their jobs since March 2020 and the economy has shrunk by 10 per cent, the UK’s GDP is set to return to its pre-Covid peak in mid-2022, according to the OBR.

Mr Sunak also revealed that the headline rate of corporation tax will rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent from 2023, effectively reversing the policy of his predecessor George Osborne - though it still leaves Britain with the lowest rate of such a tax in the G7, below countries like US, Germany, and Canada.