Levelling up just got tougher, says Michael Gove

Looks to Owl as if it is/was nothing more than a slogan.

Rising prices are making the government’s plans to reduce regional inequalities more difficult and more important, says Michael Gove, the cabinet minister for levelling up.

BBC Panorama www.bbc.co.uk

The goal of levelling up is to provide equal opportunities across the UK.

A BBC Panorama investigation raises questions about whether the money is reaching the most deprived areas in England.

Mr Gove said his department was helping councils to ensure bids are effective.

Levelling up was a key part of the Conservatives’ 2019 election campaign.

The government recently set out its 12 “missions” for the policy – ranging from improving education to faster broadband capability to local transport – with a deadline for delivery in 2030.

“Unless we stick to those missions, then the cost of living issues that we face at the moment will deepen inequality,” said Mr Gove.

Labour’s Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, said the government should begin by getting inflation under control. “By their own admission, their mismanagement of the economy is going to make levelling up harder,” she told the BBC.

For the first round of the so-called Levelling Up Fund, £1.7bn has been allocated to towns and cities across the UK.

When Panorama sent freedom-of-information requests to councils in the 100 most deprived areas in England, it found that 28 councils had all their bids rejected. This included 18 areas that were on the government’s top priority list, including Knowsley and Blackpool.

Meanwhile, 38 councils won all, or some, of the money they requested, and 34 councils did not submit a bid in this round.

Map showing outcome of Levelling up fund bids in 100 most deprived local authorities

A second round for the fund will open for applications at the end of May.

Former government economist Nicola Headlam said asking councils to bid against each other was not the right approach. “A beauty contest around who gets the money, that’s not really how I would do it,” she said. She also said that affluent places could have more resources to write better proposals.

Mr Gove said his department was deploying levelling up directors, who live in the relevant areas, to assist with bids.

Data methodology: Data gathered under Freedom of Information requests to lower tier local authorities. We have excluded any bids made at a county council or combined authority level as these had more limited eligibility criteria for the Levelling Up Fund. We used the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 ‘rank of average ran’ summary measure. Corby has been excluded due to boundary changes, so we included the 101st-ranked local authority Nuneaton and Bedworth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.