‘Get Brexit done’ was an undeniably clever election message, and one which Boris Johnson can credibly claim he has delivered now that the UK has formally left the EU (notwithstanding the pesky business of unwinding decades of trading arrangements, regulatory alignment, and inter-governmental cooperation…).
But ‘levelling up’ – the latest catchphrase being parroted by the Prime Minister – has no such clearly deliverable endpoint and is likely to hang around the Government’s neck like a millstone.
“England has one of the worst regional productivity gaps in Europe”
Everyone can see that infrastructure investment is massively unbalanced, with huge regional differences in transport, housing, and flood defences.
England has one of the worst regional productivity gaps in Europe, where those in the ‘left behind’ areas of the North and the Midlands face lower incomes, and poorer educational outcomes.
But ‘levelling up’ can only happen if the Government invests tens of billions of pounds more, something that it simply won’t do.
Talk of ‘levelling up’ just further exposes the ever-increasing inequalities in health, wealth, and life chances that the Tories have racked up over the past decade of disappointment.
Take UK health inequalities, which are going backwards, having ‘lost a decade’, according to Professor Sir Michael Marmot. Life expectancy for the poorest women is reducing, while the number of children living in poverty is growing.
How exactly will the upcoming ‘Fair Funding Review’– which our analysis shows will take hundreds of millions of pounds in social care funding away from ‘red wall’ seats and hand it to southern shires instead – level this up?