Rishi Sunak grilled over UK 'levelling up' plans
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Sunak explained the government’s plans to recover the economy after the unprecedented struggles of the coronavirus pandemic following the announcement of the new budget on Wednesday. Several BBC viewers took to Twitter when they noticed the Chancellor got his locations mixed up as he claimed the Tories were planning on ‘levelling up’ cities like Burnley and Bury.
Presenter Thompson criticised Sunak’s budget for not doing enough to commit to long-term growth in areas hit hardest by the economic effects of COVID.
Thompson, originally from Burnley, spoke to the Chancellor in Bury Market about his plans to develop more disadvantaged areas, particularly those in the North.
“No, I think I’d probably dispute that, actually,” Sunak hit back.
He went on: “A lot of what we announced yesterday, the levelling up fund, bids like Burnley Market, world famous Burnley Market, benefitting from £20 million of investment.”
The Chancellor gestured and looked around his current location, despite the interview taking place in Bury Market, not Burnley.
A number of viewers called out Sunak on Twitter for failing to realise which town he was in, despite Thompson repeatedly stating they were in Bury.
User David Oliver tweeted: “Oops! Fellow Lancastrians won’t be happy.
“Rishi sitting among the famous black puddings of Bury Market just called it “Burnley Market” twice.”
While Christine Morgan said: “Interesting that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is talking @BBCBreakfast about Burnley market while sitting in Bury market.
“Photo op yes, attention to detail and really caring? No.”
To which user Itsmyopinion replied: “I thought the same, says a lot about him and his blatant ignorance.”
Sunak said the budget will back new projects in Aberdeen, Bury, Burnley, Lewes, Clwyd South and Stoke-on-Trent.
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Bury’s famous market is said to benefit from a ‘generational boost’ after being allocated £20m as part of a £4.8 billion fund for Greater Manchester.
Six projects across the region were handed part of the first phase of the new fund, which totals £1.7bn across the UK.
However, Thompson criticised the government’s plans for not including more long-term strategies for certain areas.
He said: “You’ve offered regeneration money in terms of £20million but everybody I speak to in places like Burnley and here in Bury, it’s not about hands outs, it’s not about grants.
“It’s about creating growth and optimism and a long-term strategy. What we didn’t have in your Budget yesterday was a long-term plan for places like that.”
Sunak also claimed his levelling-up plans would benefit smaller towns nationwide, and not just in the North.
“It is not just about being in the North by the way,” he said.
“We’re here in Burnley but if you are growing up in a village in the South West or even on the South Coast, people want to feel the opportunity is there for them, wherever they happen to be.”
BBC Breakfast airs weekdays from 6am on BBC One.
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