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East Anglia waits to hear what it will get from struggling towns’ fund

PUBLISHED: 15:07 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:07 04 March 2019

James Brokenshire said the money would make a difference to run-down towns. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

James Brokenshire said the money would make a difference to run-down towns. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

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Communities in Suffolk and Norfolk are waiting to hear what funding they might get from the government’s “Brexit Bonus” – but have been warned it could be only a small amount in comparison to what is on offer in more deprived parst of the country.

The government announced the £1.6bn “Stronger Towns Fund” to help support communities which have struggled over recent years – but that vast majority of that money will go to places in the north and midlands.

East Anglian counties will share in £25m over the next seven years – which will mainly be administered by its local enterprise partnerships.

A spokesman for the New Anglia LEP, which covers most of Suffolk and Norfolk, said they had not received any details about how much money they would receive – nor how it would be spent.

But he said the LEP hoped the majority of the East of England’s share would come through them because most of the deprivation blacksports in the region came within its area.

Essex is part of the Kent and Essex LEP which is included in the South East region.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “We have listened to people across the East of England who feel left behind by momentous changes to their local communities and I’m determined to provide the support they need to create a prosperous future beyond Brexit.

“This major new fund builds on over £9 billion in City and Growth Deals we have delivered since 2010 to help hard working people reach their full potential and to build an economy that works for everyone.

“I look forward to working closely with local leaders as they develop their ideas and to hearing what more they propose to bring benefits to their local communities.”

The package for run-down towns was dismissed by opposition MPs as an attempt to win Labour support for her Brexit deal. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This Towns’ Fund smacks of desperation from a Government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation.”

But Mr Brokenshire said the money was not conditional on support for the withdrawal agreement: “This funding is there regardless of the outcome, but obviously we want to see a deal happening. We believe that is what is in the best interests of our country.”

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