Boris Johnson has pinned “levelling up” as one of his most important policy areas – as the “defining mission” of his Government. This was intended to give (particularly northern) communities which have been “left behind” a chance to catch up to more prosperous areas.
So important did the outgoing Prime Minister view this mission that he described his progress at some length, alongside discussing “getting Brexit done” and supporting Ukraine against Russia, in his resignation speech, telling voters: “We’ve been pushing forward a vast programme of investment in infrastructure and skills and technology – the biggest in a century – because if I have one insight into human beings, it is that genius and talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distribution throughout the population but opportunity is not.
“That’s why we must keep levelling up – keep unleashing the potential of every part of the United Kingdom.”
But a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank has found that despite years of promises to “level up”, the Government has allowed funding in Northern areas to remain far behind the national average.
It showed that the total managed per person expenditure in the North last year was 16,223.
This was below England’s average of £16,309 per person.
It was also 19 percent lower than London’s figure of 19,231.
The North also saw its total managed expenditure increase by a lesser degree between 2018-2021 than did the nation’s capital.
This grew by 18 percent in the North and by 26 percent in London.
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He added: “Regions like the North deserve nothing less than to be afforded the tools they need to level up for themselves – it’s a sensible way of governing, and very normal in less unequal countries. But here, that hasn’t yet happened at anywhere near the level needed.”
Mr Johns said the next Tory leader and Prime Minister must “commit to delivering where their predecessors have not”, in a dig at Mr Johnson’s time in office.
But the Government responded to the report insisting it did “not recognise” the figures.
A spokesperson said: “We do not recognise these figures and are pressing full steam ahead with levelling up the North.
“We are transforming the rail network with £96billion investment to deliver faster and more reliable journeys, creating thousands of jobs with freeports in Teesside and the Humber, and supporting projects that improve everyday life with our £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund.
“We also understand the pressures facing local authorities, which is why we made an additional £3.7billion available to councils in recognition of their vital role and to ensure they are able to deliver key services.”