A focus on areas with stronger leaders will not be good news for all places

By Arianna Giovannini | 12 October 2021

Recently, the Government has shown a new determination to focus on levelling up. Michael Gove is now at the helm of the rebranded ‘levelling up’ department and, according to many, this is a positive sign. He has a reputation for being a minister that ‘gets things done’ and yet his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester was far from reassuring. He repeated the ‘levelling up’ mantra – but offered little to back it up with concrete plans on how to achieve it. Mr Gove stressed that the agenda requires strengthening local leadership, raising living standards, improving public services and enhancing people’s pride in the place they live. But how, where, when and by what means these ambitions will be put into practice remains unclear. His claims also seemed to clash with the chancellor’s speech, which laid the ground for a tough Spending Review.

Mr Gove’s pledge to ‘strrengthen local leadership to deliver change' seems also to indicate a new commitment to devolution. This is of course essential as levelling up cannot be delivered by Whitehall alone. But how will the devolution agenda look under Mr Gove?

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