London should no longer be excluded from a £3.6 billion cash pot for English towns, the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate has said.

Luisa Porritt – who entered the race for City Hall last month – said the Government should extend its Towns Fund to the capital when it sets out spending plans for the coming year.

The scheme, launched last summer, provides regeneration grants to smaller communities – but the capital is not eligible for the cash.The project has been mired in controversy since reports in The Times revealed that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick ignored advice from civil servants and poured funding into marginal constituencies ahead of last year’s General Election.

Now Ms Porritt believes Chancellor Rishi Sunak should look again at the scheme, and acknowledge the patchwork of small community centres in London that could benefit from funding.

Coronavirus has put new pressure on suburban high streets in the capital, with lockdown rules pushing residents to shop more locally, she says.

Mr Sunak will announce public spending on schools, hospitals and councils over the next financial year tomorrow (Wednesday November 25).

And the Lib Dem mayoral hopeful has also called on the Chancellor to extend the Covid-19 furlough scheme to support freelancers who have not so far been eligible.

Ms Porritt wants business rate relief to continue for an extra year until March 2022, and believes the 10pm restaurant and bar curfew should be scrapped in any local lockdown tier where these businesses are allowed to open.

The former MEP said the local neighbourhoods that make up the capital city will be a vital part of London’s recovery, with high streets “at the heart of that”.

“Investing in London’s high streets by extending the Towns Fund will kickstart London’s recovery, helping local economies to meet the demand of more homeworkers and rediscover their purpose at the centre of our communities,” she said.

“Despite the difficulties that high streets have encountered in recent years, they remain home to half of London’s jobs.

“We can’t stop the rise of online shopping, but we can reinvent the high street for the future.”

The Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.