This week the Public Accounts Committee, which I am a member of, released a report into the Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund, introduced in summer 2019.
The report concludes that the Committee is “not convinced by the rationales for selecting some towns and not others”, finding the justification offered by ministers for selecting individual towns to be “vague and based on sweeping assumptions” and raising concerns over the decisions being politically motivated.
In some cases, towns were chosen by ministers despite being identified by officials as the very lowest priority – for example, one town selected ranked 536th out of 541 towns.
Having grown up in a town, I know first hand how proud our communities are. People in Yorkshire’s Towns will want to understand why some areas were seemingly excluded from the Government’s selection process, which saw some Conservative swing seats in Yorkshire receive a pre-election funding boost.
When so many people across the country are relying on the government to get them through this pandemic, it is more important than ever that decisions about how and where taxpayer money is spent are based on need, and not political gain.
My colleagues and I on the Public Accounts Committee will continue to hold the Government to account for how it has used taxpayers’ money in the Towns Fund and throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
Below is an extract from the evidence session, but if you are interested, you can watch the full session here.