The Government has been accused of 'political bias' when allocating funding from its £3.6bn Towns Fund by the public spending watchdog.
In a new report, the Public Accounts Committee said it was 'not convinced by the rationales' used for selecting certain towns and not others.
The report said the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) had not been open about the process it followed for selected or excluding towns for the fund.
Meg Hillier, chair of the Committee, said: 'In our programme of work on the Government response to the Covid pandemic, we have begun to see the grim, potentially huge costs of public spending made in haste and without all the usual, legal checks and controls. That makes it all the less acceptable to now be looking at billions of pounds handed out in an opaque process that has every appearance of having been politically motivated - long before Covid struck.
'Now, when every penny counts, and when some towns that won funding will almost certainly have to redirect it to fill the massive holes the pandemic has blown in their budgets, MHCLG must be open and transparent about the decisions it made to hand out those £billions of taxpayers’ money, and what it expects to deliver.'
The committee also warned MHCLG was unclear on what it expects from the Towns Fund and how it will measure success.