Levelling up risks becoming less than the sum of its parts

By Zoe Billingham | 08 March 2021

Another month, another fiscal event and we’re not much further ahead on the levelling-up agenda. Post Budget 2021 local areas face years of competitive bidding for an array of capital funding pots. But piecemeal physical infrastructure spend will not transform regional inequality. Unless the government rethinks its approach, levelling up risks becoming less than the sum of its parts.

Levelling up was central to the Conservative election win in 2019 and it is an idea that has stuck. A recent survey for the IFS Deaton Review by King’s College London, suggests regional inequality is now the inequality Briton’s care most about. Rachel Wolf, co-author of the Conservative party 2019 election manifesto, recently and candidly stated 'levelling up - like most political phrases - is completely meaningless' but ultimately it speaks to the determination to demonstrate that 'places and therefore lives will be tangibly better than they were two years ago, five years ago'.

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