Legal campaigners are taking the government to court contending the £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund is unlawful as 40 out of 45 scheme to be approved had at least one Tory MP.
The Good Law Project claim Rishi Sunak and Robert Jenrick’s constituencies are among the areas to have benefitted from that a funding formula that appears to be a case of “pork parallel politics”.
Jolyon Maugham, the barrister who founded the campaign group, said: “If you think that it’s coincidence that Tory marginals are huge beneficiaries I have a fine bridge to sell you. To ensure the Tories don’t use public money for party purposes, the Good Law Project is suing.”
In a letter of claim sent last week, the campaigners argue that the project is unlawful on four counts.
They said ministers appear to have breached their duty under the equality act to carry out an equalities impact assessment, breached their common law duty of transparency, acted irrationally because of flaws in their methodology, and that “decisions were tainted by irrelevant considerations/improper purpose, namely the electoral advantage (or potential electoral advantage) of the Conservative party”.
This came after communities minister Robert Jenrick caused controversy by approving a £25million fund award for his Newark constituency at the same time as signing off on money being allocated to a junior minister’s constituency.
The revelations follow a report in The Times alleging Jenrick helped select Newark for the allocation, something the communities secretary has vehemently denied.
At the time Jenrick insisted there was a “robust and fair” methodology behind the government’s Towns Fund and dismissed allegations that he had any involvement in Newark’s selection as “completely baseless”.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund is open to all places in Great Britain and will play a vital role in helping to support and regenerate communities.
“The published methodology makes clear the metrics used to identify places judged to be most in need. It would not be appropriate to comment on potential legal action.”