Rishi Sunak grilled over UK 'levelling up' plans
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“Levelling up” was a central policy of Boris Johnson’s election campaign. Now Michael Gove, the minister in charge of these plans, has been criticised for delaying the white paper which outlines the Government’s plans to “level up” the country. Express.co.uk explores the reasons behind this delay.
In his first speech as Prime Minister in 2019, Boris Johnson promised to help “left-behind towns.”
He said: “It is time we unleashed the productive power not just of London and the South East but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
This flagship policy is commonly known as his “levelling up” plan.
Certain communities feel they have been left behind in comparison to other regions, notably northern regions when compared to the capital and the south.
So, levelling up seeks to address regional disparities in issues such as housing costs and living standards.
The Government said its white paper on “levelling up” all regions would be published before Christmas, but this deadline has been pushed back.
In May Michael Gove announced: “Later this year, the Government will publish a landmark levelling up White Paper, which will set out bold new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity.”
In the October Spending Review, the Government further stressed that the plan would be published this year.
It added: “The Levelling Up White Paper to be published later this year will set out further detail on the Government’s plans in this area.”
The plan is now expected to be published in early 2022.
Michael Gove is the minister in charge of this policy as he was appointed as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on September 15, 2021.
Why has Mr Gove delayed publishing his plans to level up the country?
Among the reasons for the delay is said to be the Government’s need to focus on dealing with the new Omicron Covid variant.
But other reports have been circulating that the delay is due to Mr Gove’s clash with Chancellor Rishi Sunak overspending, the Mirror reports.
A Government insider told the Mail on Sunday: “Michael has plenty of ideas but the Treasury is reluctant to bankroll them. We need more cost-effective ideas.”
At October’s Spending Review, Mr Sunak announced a hefty £4.8bn “Levelling Up Fund” with £1.7bn available in the first round of bids and a second round of bids next year.
It’s thought the Chancellor has insisted he won’t increase the total.
Government sources have defended Mr Gove’s delay saying he is committed to addressing the issue.
Government insiders told the BBC the committee chaired by Mr Gove has already met several times with “very good engagement” from other members of the cabinet.
Labour has blasted Mr Gove’s plans as being in “complete disarray.”
Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “The Government’s commitment to level up our communities is in complete disarray.
“After two years of empty slogans and broken promises it is now crystal clear Ministers haven’t been able to come up with a single new idea to make good on the promises they made to level up our communities, beyond more boards, bureaucracy and quangos.
She added: “Far too many parts of our country are held back for lack of power and investment. We were promised a serious plan to meet that challenge. Nothing less will do.”
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