Monday, 4 July 2022 – 15:41

Levelling-Up paper defended by Michael Gove in the commons

Michael Gove gave a statement on Wednesday about the “white paper” – an important document detailing policies and fund allocation that will define this governments domestic policy.

Michael Gove opened by acknowledging that while “talent within the UK is spread equally, the opportunity is not”, and that this document aims to remedy that by generating faster growth, quicker public services & higher wages.

Gove said:

“The United Kingdom is an unparalleled success story. We have one of the world’s biggest and most dynamic economies. Ours is the world’s most spoken language. We have produced more Nobel Prize winners than any country other than America.

“But not everyone shares equally in the UK’s success. For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued. As some areas have flourished, others have been left in a cycle of decline. The UK has been like a jet firing on only one engine.

“Levelling Up and this White Paper is about ending this historic injustice and calling time on the postcode lottery.

“This will not be an easy task, and it won’t happen overnight, but our 12 new national levelling up missions will drive real change in towns and cities across the UK, so that where you live will no longer determine how far you can go.”

Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, Lisa Nandy said that the paper did not go nearly far enough.

“After all the delays, all the slogans, all the big promises… Is this really it?”

“The sum total of our ambition for our proud coastal and industrial towns and our great cities is a history lesson on the rise of the Roman Empire. A minister scurrying around Whitehall, shuffling the deckchairs, cobbling together a shoppling list of recycled policies and fiddling the figures. Is this really it?”

“They want to tackle crime, but on their watch fewer than 1 in 10 crimes are solved and nearly all rapes go unprosecuted.”

“They’ve halved the funding for buses, they’ve scrapped the rail promises to the north, and where is the digital Britain we were promised?

“We don’t need to look to Rome for inspiration. In Preston, Wigan and Grimsby people are delivering real change for themselves. Not because of their government, but despite it.”

Nandy argued that the funds were insufficient to provide the meaningful changes that are needed, and that the reason local economies are struggling is because working people do not have enough money, and that the government investing into opening more shops won’t change anything while real wages stagnate and taxes increase.

Tommy Sheppard of the SNP argued that the supposed devolution was a facade, and that the paper did not promise more actual power to local administrations, only the powers of the more powerful counties and mayors being spread to others. He said that, after the investment of “so much political capital” all we’re getting is a “promise of a better bus service 8 years from now”.

The full 12 promises of the paper are detailed below:

  1.  By 2030, pay, employment and productivity will have risen in every area of the UK, with each containing a globally competitive city, with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.
  2.  By 2030, domestic public investment in Research & Development outside the Greater South East will increase by at least 40% and at least one third over the Spending Review period, with that additional government funding seeking to leverage at least twice as much private sector investment over the long term to stimulate innovation and productivity growth.
  3. By 2030, local public transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.
  4. By 2030, the UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population.
  5. By 2030, the number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased. In England, this will mean 90% of children will achieve the expected standard, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by over a third.
  6. By 2030, the number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK. In England, this will lead to 200,000 more people successfully completing high-quality skills training annually, driven by 80,000 more people completing courses in the lowest skilled areas.
  7. By 2030, the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed, and by 2035 HLE will rise by 5 years.
  8. By 2030, well-being will have improved in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.
  9. By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.
  10. By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.
  11. By 2030, homicide, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime will have fallen, focused on the worst-affected areas.
  12. By 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.
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