Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the UK’s replacement for EU structural funding would go to communities that were “undervalued and overlooked” by Labour authorities and now have Conservative MPs.
He added: “It is vitally important improvements to productivity are supported and that is why new free ports and increased investment will go to areas that have been neglected by Labour for far too long.”
Mr Gove was responding to a question in the Commons from Labour MP Feryal Clark about the Shared Prosperity Fund. It was announced by the government three years ago as a post-Brexit replacement for EU support to under-performing areas.
South Yorkshire was set to receive £605m between 2021 and 2027.
Ms Clark said nothing had happened since the Prime Minister took office in December.
She added: “We need to keep it accountable to prevent pork-barrel politics and bungs to target seats.”
Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield said Mr Gove’s statement confirmed his ‘worst fears’.
He added: “I’ve been pressing ministers for two years to confirm that South Yorkshire will still get the £600m investment in local jobs that we would have received from the EU.
“Gove’s admission confirms my worst fears, that the Tories are planning to divert our money to their favoured areas and we’ll lose out.
“I pressed ministers last week for an open and transparent framework for the distribution of the replacement funds, and I’ll continue to make that case. South Yorkshire must get the investment we need.”
Last year, Mr Blomfield criticised repeated delays in details about the fund or starting consultation on it.
He said then: “Yet again, as with everything to do with Brexit, the Government is trying to kick the can down the road by postponing the consultation on future funding of our poorer regions.
“I’m simply asking them to pledge, as they previously promised, that South Yorkshire won’t be worse off.
“Their failure to reply at the third time of asking, and the delayed consultation, suggest they’re going to let us down again. It’s another broken Brexit promise.”