What does levelling up mean? Boris Johnson promises ‘win-win’ for post-pandemic life
Brexit: Rishi Sunak outlines plans for ‘levelling up agenda’
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Levelling up is a term that has been bandied about in political rhetoric espoused from leading Conservative Government Ministers since December 2019. The phrase is a key strategy for the Tories and on July 15 Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make it central to his leadership agenda despite the tougher battle in this area in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But what does levelling up actually mean?
Boris Johnson has vowed to take steps in his “levelling up” agenda.
Speaking in Coventry on Thursday, the PM has promised the Government will not make the “rich parts” of the UK poorer amid the “levelling up” programme.
Mr Johnson said plans to invest more in deprived areas and improve skills are not a “jam-spreading exercise”.
He pledged to improve services and boost community pride in the wake of the pandemic – adding fuller plans will be laid out in the autumn.
On Thursday, Mr Johnson said the economy is slowly and cautiously picking itself up off the floor.
He added the country needs to “work double hard” to overturn economic inequalities as it recovers from Covid.
Mr Johnson did however offer some optimism in the face of these challenges – saying the UK economy is “poised to recover like a coiled spring”.
The PM added: “Come to us with your vision about how you will level up.”
What does levelling up mean?
Levelling up was a key part of the Conservative Party’s campaign in Hartlepool.
The concept was raised in the Queen’s Speech in May when she revealed the Government wanted to “level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom”.
It was also raised in the party’s 2019 manifesto with the following factors involved in the “levelling up” agenda:
- Investing in towns, cities and rural and coastal areas
- Giving those areas more control of how investment is made
- Levelling up skills using apprenticeships and a £3bn National Skills Fund
- Making life much easier for farming and fishing industries
- Creating up to 10 freeports to help derived communities.
A group of Tories formed a levelling up a task force aimed at calling for the Government to analyse how tax and spending changes affect different areas.
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Previously, Mr Johnson described the levelling up agenda as “the central purpose of his premiership”.
In his speech on July 15, Mr Johnson said the Government will have “made progress in levelling up when we have begun to raise living standards, spread opportunity, improved our public services and restored people’s sense of pride in their community.”
Mr Johons added investing in deprived areas would relieve pressure on parts of the UK which are “overheating”.
He added previous Governments have focused too much on “areas where house prices are already high and where transport is already congested”.
Some have expressed concerns the levelling up plan could see other areas “levelling down”.
Mr Johnson addressed these concerns on Thursday, insisting there would be no “levelling down”.
He said: “We don’t want to decapitate the tall poppies.
“We don’t think you can make the poor parts of the country richer by making the rich parts poorer.”
The PM added: “Levelling up is not a jam-spreading operation. It’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“It’s not zero-sum. It’s win-win”.
Mr Johnson added “turbo-charging” London and the South East had helped to drive prices higher and “force more and more people to move to the same expensive areas”.
He said this means southerners face longer commutes and less time with their families.
The PM said: “They worry at the same time that the younger generation won’t be able to get a home and that their leafy suburb or village will be engulfed by a new housing development, but without the infrastructure to go with it.”
The speech comes after a devastating defeat for the party in the recent Chesham and Amersham by-election which saw the Liberal Democrat candidate crowned the victor.
However, his attempt to rally both the Red Wall and Blue Wall votes garnered a mixed response, with his adversary Dominic Cummings quickly slamming the message on Twitter.
Mr Cummings wrote: “Today grid: crap speech (same he’s given pointlessly umpteen times) supporting crap slogan, buried by their own food report which No 10 having to knock down, all news lines now effectively like Dre’s old Random Announcement Generator… SNAFU… Not staff fault: just Trolley Government ”.
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