SENIOR Southampton politicians have criticised Rishi Sunak after the ex-chancellor admitted taking money from deprived urban areas and giving it to wealthier parts of the UK.

Mr Sunak, one of two candidates in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister, made a speech to party members in affluent Tunbridge Wells, Kent, last month.

In footage obtained by the New Statesman, he said: “I managed to start changing the funding formulas to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserved.

“We inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone.

"I started the work of undoing that.”

Defending his remarks, Southampton-born Mr Sunak said he was arguing that towns and rural areas needed help not just "big urban areas".

But Cllr Darren Paffey, deputy leader of Labour-led Southampton City Council said: "It's a disgrace that one of the richest men in the country is boasting about taking money away from cities like Southampton to give to wealthy areas.

"Time and time again Southampton misses out and doesn't get its fair share of funding to tackle the levels of poverty and rising crime that our residents face.

"Now we know Mr Sunak will make things worse for us just so he can win the leadership contest.  He's a cheerleader for more austerity, but it's our communities who will pay the price."

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, added: "We have seen this Conservative thinking in action recently where Southampton got much less money per head then affluent areas in Hampshire as part of the UK shared prosperity funding.

"This is the opposite of levelling up and shows where Rishi Sunak's priorities lie if he becomes Prime Minister."

But Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, defended the chancellor's remarks.

He said: "I think it would be fair to say that the formula for local authority expenditure, inherited from the last Labour Government, was never fit for purpose.

"The allocation of the Revenue Support Grant, as opposed to specific grants for levels of deprivation, was never fair on County Councils.

"That’s why the new system of Business Rate retention is fairer overall and incentivises councils to support business and business investment.”

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.

Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.

You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.

Don't take my word for it - subscribe here to see for yourself.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group - Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents

Follow the latest court and crime news on our dedicated Facebook group - Hampshire Court and Crime News