Ministers need to define what they mean by ‘levelling up’

By Michael Burton | 04 March 2020
  • Michael Burton

Language is important for new governments to claim as their own. Irrespective of whether their predecessor was from the same party or the opposition, outgoing initiatives have to be rebadged even if they are still basically the same. So the ‘left behind’ – the phrase from 2016 that was supposed to sum up disillusioned voters who, fed up with stagnant incomes, backed Brexit – has gone the way of its inventor, Theresa May. Under her successor the phrase is now ‘levelling up.’

But what does it mean? The answer, presumably, is bringing those regions, districts and neighbourhoods that are below average for productivity, wages, economic activity, educational attainment and health up to the level of at least the average. It is assumed to refer to geographic inequalities, especially in former Labour ‘red wall’ areas in the Midlands and the North.

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