Another Conservative Con, just gaseous rhetoric:
Although the House of Commons is not sitting over the summer, MPs who chair select committees are still doing some work and some of them have been sending out letters. Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the levelling up committee, says that when Greg Clark replaced Michael Gove as levelling up secretary in July, he asked Betts to tell him over the summer what the committee thought of the levelling up and regeneration bill.
Not much seems to be the answer. Today Betts has released the letter he has sent to Clark on behalf of his committee giving an assessment of the bill and here is the key paragraph.
It is the committee’s view that the main tool to achieve levelling up will be through appropriate funding to those areas that need it most. This funding will help in making progress on the levelling up missions related to public transport and local connectivity; transforming digital connectivity; improving education outcomes; increasing the number of adults who complete high quality skills training; and increasing healthy life expectancy. None of the provisions in the bill will directly contribute to making progress towards achieving these missions – other than setting them. There is also no funding for levelling up associated with the bill.
Like all select committees, this one has a narrow Conservative majority.
And in a statement to journalists Betts said:
In its current form, the bill does little to reassure that levelling up will prove to be more than just a slogan and that we will have meaningful change in local communities across the country. In key areas, it is unclear how the government intends to drive change and they are yet to commit to the spending that is necessary to level up the country.
Our inquiry has focused on the planning provisions in the bill, which can be described as loosely-connected proposals to tinker with the current system, hopefully achieving some improvement. It has been difficult to conduct scrutiny due to a lot of the detail of the provisions having not yet been published.