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UK Government’s flagship Levelling Up policy has been a failure – new research

14 Jun 2024 3 minute read
The former Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove . Photo Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The UK Government’s flagship Levelling Up policy has been a failure, according to new independent research.

The policy was launched by the Conservative government in 2019 with the claim that it would reduce inequality based on where people live across the UK.

However, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), “there are very few signs of Levelling Up, with disparities in living standards and productivity between various English regions and UK devolved nations remaining unchanged or widening since the last General Election.”

The Levelling Up process – as set out in the 2022 White Paper – was intended to narrow the economic and social gap between the nations and regions of the United Kingdom by 2030.

Brexit

The UK Government developed a number of funds, including the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) and Levelling Up Fund (LUF), to replace EU funding after Brexit.

The Welsh Government argued that Wales would receive £772 million less funding through the SPF between January 2021 and March 2025 compared to the amount that would have been received through EU Structural Funds.

The UK Government argued that previous EU programmes “ramped up and down”, and that its funding commitment would be met by a combination of EU funds from the 2014-20 programme and investment through the SPF.

Productivity

NIESR’s new research shows that the gap in living standards between London and the South East and the North East has grown, and productivity differences between London and the South East and the West Midlands have also increased. Its projections of living standards and productivity suggest that unless some fundamental change occurs, there will be no significant progress by 2030.

The study concludes that the combination of insufficient central government resources and the slow disbursement of relatively small pots of money has meant that progress on the 12 main Levelling Up missions has been “feeble”.

To start reducing regional inequalities, NIESR is urging the next Government to:

Substantially increase the level of public investment to at least 4-5 per cent of GDP per year.

Speed up the disbursement of Levelling Up funds according to clear economic and social criteria.

Reform the operation of government, with better cross-government coordination and greater decentralisation of both decision-making powers and resources in policy areas such as skills, transport, infrastructure and housing.

Policy failure

Professor Adrian Pabst, Deputy Director for Public Policy, said: “Levelling Up is the right idea but it has been a policy failure. Notwithstanding the various shocks like Covid-19 and the spike in inflation, Levelling Up has not happened because of a lack of resources and the slow disbursement of small pots of money.

“If the next government wants to reduce regional inequalities, it will need to combine political leadership with a credible programme of public investment of 4-5 per cent of GDP per year, which can unlock greater business investment.

“Bringing about sustained regional regeneration is a generational task, and we require a commitment that is at scale.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Of all the Tory lies, this was the longest drawn out slow burner which amounted to normal funding given to an area being presented as a great gift with bows and party poppers. If it has been confirmed as a failure, it’s because it was designed to. A very elaborate deception and distraction. The four and a half year wide duvet to hide all the wrongdoing going on underneath. The trouble was we kept on pulling it back for a peak.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Smoke and mirrors job created at a time when a big slice of England would have believed any garbage coming from the Tories. It could have been made to work but that was not the intention because nobody worked hard enough to secure better outcomes. Just another handout of money that would have come from another source, and that source would have provided more. Still it speaks volumes about the dependency/ handout culture prevalent throughout the UK and how easily people can be deluded by these gestures.

Stevie
Stevie
1 month ago

Lets hope our Brexit leaving colleagues in Blaenau Gwent haven’t received any levelling up money – they had more than enough from the EU and showed zero gratitude.

Ann
Ann
1 month ago

It also created the necessity for authorities to do a lot of work for no return as they had to prepare bids for money which they did not eventually receive. It would have been far better to distribute the money for councils to spend as they saw fit!

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

Surely there’s been levelling up.
Have they looked behind those forty new hospitals.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

The Evil Pretenders…Thanks BBC for Mr Gove and Clare Fox and all the help you gave Fat Shanks and that Michael Buerk and Mr Hislop…just a game to you, you Wanchors…

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Surprise , surprise!!! I suspect the tories had no intention of ‘levelling up’, their promises are just window dressing. Promise this, promise that get nothing.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Call me Dave, boy did he do a number on the UK and his own party…

…he deserves a medal !

Howie
Howie
1 month ago

With Jo Stevens playing hide the funds in Labour manifesto, I suspect it won’t get any better for localities. Labour cannot spell decentralisation.

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
29 days ago

Levelling Down should have been the name of the scheme, give some money to the richer areas and bugger the rest.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
29 days ago

HM Treasury calls the shots and was never going to allow other regions to challenge London’s status as the sole breadwinner.

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