More than 50 projects will benefit from £1bn in the third tranche of the equalization fund

Fifty-five projects across the UK have received a share of almost £1bn from the Government's flat-rate fund.

The money will help spread opportunities, create jobs and revitalize local communities, with £825m going to regenerate major roads and £150m to improve transport links, the Department for Leveling said on Monday.

The department stressed that the third round of funding was being distributed across all parts of Great Britain, following criticism that the latest tranche was delivered disproportionately to relatively affluent South East Europe.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was forced at the time to deny that the handouts were motivated by an attempt to shore up support in southern Tory seats.

Today we support 55 projects across the UK with £1 billion to create new jobs and opportunities, boost economic growth and revitalize local areas

Upgrade Secretary Michael Gove

The last projects earmarked for funding were selected from a pool of bids that failed in the second round, avoiding the competitive bidding process previously seen.

The North West receives £128m, the North East £59m, Yorkshire and Humber £169m and the Midlands £171m in total, according to the leveling department.

Grants include £20m to develop fisheries and sustainable high-skilled jobs in Torbay, £18m to regenerate three former mining communities in Doncaster and £15m to upgrade Blackpool's transport network.

The highest award in the funding round – £48m – goes to the Penistone railway upgrade in Yorkshire.

Under the cloak of financial blackmail, the government is siphoning money out of Northern Ireland to boost Conservative seats in England

DUP MP Sammy Wilson

Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Leveling is about delivering on the priorities of local people and bringing about transformative change in communities that, for too long, have been overlooked and undervalued.

“Today we are supporting 55 projects across the UK with £1 billion to create new jobs and opportunities, boost economic growth and revitalize local areas.

“This funding sits alongside our wider initiatives to spread growth, by transferring more money and power from Westminster to towns and cities, by delivering tailored interventions where they need it most, and our Long Term Plan for the Cities”.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has complained that no cash has been made available in Northern Ireland despite “hundreds of suitable applications”.

The party's finance ministry spokesman, Sammy Wilson, said: “This is an outrageous act by the government. Under the cloak of financial blackmail, the government has siphoned money from Northern Ireland to boost Conservative seats in England.

“The government's reasoning for this decision is both bogus and outrageous. Indeed, the absence of an executive body having no real effect on the allocations, the main objection in Scotland and Wales to the Equalization Fund is that it is led by Westminster rather than the devolved regions.

“The government must be honest. The real reason for this allocation is to pump more money into the marginal seats in Great Britain where the Conservative Party is fighting.”

Mr Wilson later expressed his anger in the Commons, with Communities Secretary Jacob Young replying: “We have set aside what Northern Ireland's share would have been in this round and I am committed to working with him and his colleagues to ensure that Northern Ireland will get the full benefits of the upgrade.”

For Labour, shadow business minister Justin Manders accused the government of “giving up” as he questioned what the future holds for unsuccessful bids.

He said in the Commons: “What's the plan to deal with these communities that are falling apart, these high streets that are emptying, is this the end of any hope of rising level for them?”

He said the government's statement “doesn't offer a way forward to address these issues, it just rearranges the decks with what's gone before”, adding: “They're not leveling up, they're giving up.”

Former Westminster SNP leader Ian Blackford said many projects in his constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber benefited from EU funding, adding: “The money would have come if we had stayed in the European Union as Scotland had voted.”

He added: “Once again we get nothing, take everything away from this Tory government.”

Mr Young said Blackford was “wrong” and said he would provide written details of the money the SNP MP's constituency has received from the UK Equity Welfare Fund.

Labor MP Michael Shanks (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) asked whether local authorities would be reimbursed for the cost of the tenders, saying they had spent “a huge amount of time, expertise and money” on the gathering.

Mr Shanks asked: “Will he think about the total cost of this and reimburse these local authorities for those costs?”

Mr Young said: “Unfortunately I can't give refunds but, as I say, the purpose of our funding simplification program is to ensure that we move to a simpler version of funding that meets the needs of councils, rather than asking councils to meet the needs of various funding streams'.