‘Levelling Up’ is supposed to be the government’s flagship policy but what does it mean? The PM says it’s about reducing imbalances across communities without penalising others.
He promised us a White Paper to explain it, a government discussion document leading to legislation and action, but it keeps getting put back. The latest date is next week.
People are already suffering from rising prices, the loss of the triple lock for pensioners and national insurance rises for low paid workers. That’s sounds more like levelling down than up!
There’s been one round of funding, criticised for the amount given to seats won by the Tories at the General Election. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, only two in five of the top priority areas i.e. those most in need, received money.
Birmingham got about £52 million which sounds good until we discover Southend-on-Sea got £20 million to upgrade coastal attractions, Eastbourne £20 million for town centre refurbishment (Erdington’s town centre bid was refused) and Central Bedfordshire, including Woburn Abbey, seat of the Dukes of Bedford, got £26.5 million. Almost half of Birmingham’s money was for the previously promised upgrade to A457, Dudley Road. The rest for refurbishment of Moseley Baths and clearing the old Wheels site in Bordesley Green although that means several sports clubs will lose a much-loved venue.
If levelling up is about reducing inequalities and improving outcomes, we need more urgency.
I hear lots of demand for levelling up in places like Druids Heath or Masefield in my constituency and the likes of Acocks Green, Ward End, Erdington and Kingstanding. People are crying out for jobs, investment and improvements to restore pride in their communities.
We’ve learned that this PM’s word isn’t exactly his bond. As we approach the halfway stage of this government, it’s time to come clean.
Where’s the new money and the chance to reinvigorate our communities? When will our elderly be able to live out their years in dignity and our young be given a stake in the future?
We’re all growing tired of empty slogans and we can’t afford to wait much longer.
Steve McCabe MP for the Birmingham Evening Mail