MP blasts government for 'levelling', not levelling up, Norfolk services

MP for Norwich (South) Clive Lewis at the Fridays for Future climate protest on the steps of city ha

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk MP has accused the government of "levelling" vital services for people in the county, rather than providing extra cash to level them up.

Since the 2019 election, prime minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly spoken of his desire to 'level up' the country - to help areas which have traditionally missed out on money and support to catch up with locations which have fared better.

But fears have been raised that the east of England could miss out on that process, with the region's MPs holding a debate about the issue in Westminster Hall last week.

And Norwich South MP Clive Lewis raised the issue again in parliament on Monday (January 24).

The Labour MP said: "In my city of Norwich we have had less levelling up and more vital services just simply levelled.

"Will the secretary of state stop fobbing us off with insufficient ad hoc pots of money and ensure sustainable long-term funding to my city and county council - the real engines of any levelling up agenda?"

But levelling up minister Kemi Badenoch insisted the government is providing sustainable funding.

She said: "The honorable gentleman will know that the provisional local government finance settlement made available an additional £3.5bn to councils.

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"Norwich City Council had an increase in cash terms of 4.8pc, giving them a total core spending power of up to £18.6m.

"Norfolk County Council got an increase of up to £55.5m and South Norfolk Council's core spending power is at £15.7m.

"If he has further conversations he would like to have, I am happy for him to write to me."

Leaders at Norfolk County Council warned last week that the authority, while confident of setting a balanced budget for the coming financial year next month, is facing a funding gap of £60m in the following year.

Monday's questions in parliament also saw North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker raise concern about the speed at which food and support was getting to people in tsunami-hit Tonga - due to Covid-19 quarantine requirements.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker raised issues with the capability review at North Norfolk District Cou

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker raised issues with the capability review at North Norfolk District Council in 2019. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Vicky Ford, minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said there were ongoing discussions about speeding up the process.