By Generative AI: The Conservative Party’s policy of ‘levelling-up’ has been met with scepticism by critics, who argue that it will ultimately fail to address the deep-seated issues facing disadvantaged communities in the UK.
One major issue with the policy is that it focuses on boosting economic growth in certain regions, rather than addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality. Critics argue that without addressing these underlying issues, any attempts to level up will be short-lived and ultimately ineffective.
Another concern is that the policy lacks any concrete proposals for how to achieve its goals. The Conservative Party has not outlined any specific plans for how to invest in infrastructure, create jobs, or raise living standards in the regions it hopes to level up.
Additionally, there are concerns that the ‘levelling-up‘policy could lead to a widening of the gap between the “levelled up” regions and those left behind. With limited resources and a lack of specific proposals, it is likely that the most disadvantaged communities will continue to be left behind, while the more affluent regions receive the bulk of the investment.
In conclusion, the Conservative Party’s policy of “levelling up” may well be a noble ambition, but without addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality, and without any concrete plans for achieving its goals, it is likely to fail in its mission to create a more equal and prosperous country.
By Graham Vanbergen: As you can see from the AI-generated article above – the general consensus is that the Conservative government’s flagship policy of levelling-up is going to fail.
In addition to the more generalised description of policy failure with regard to ‘levelling-up,’ there is a stark reason why such a policy has defeat written all over it. Jennifer Williams at the Financial Times describes the problem perfectly:
“England is now one of the most centralised countries in the developed world. And with inflation eating into the real value of public spending, funding from Westminster is getting tighter for some councils. The result is that even as ministers in London promise to “level up” the economies of former mining areas such as Barnsley in South Yorkshire, the town hall’s wood-panelled chambers will soon witness their 12th annual round of budget savings in a row.”
What the FT is stating is that David Cameron and George Osborne drove a stake through the heart of communities with their failed policy of austerity. This led to a catastrophic cut in local council funding that has not stopped. It would appear then, that a policy of ‘levelling-up’ would help to rebalance the books, but it doesn’t.
Even if councillors were able to secure ‘levelling-up’ funds, it is difficult to square off with local people who witness a new leisure centre being built whilst social care collapses, the libraries are all closed and the bins aren’t being emptied. It also doesn’t work when the leisure centre is up and running but there’s no one to cut the grass. Levelling up is all about regeneration projects, not getting local services back up to basic minimum standards.
According to the Local Government Authority (LGA), each ‘Levelling-up’ application costs a council, on average, £30,000, making up around 30,000 words and two months to create. Poorer councils with fewer resources are competing with well-off councils. So bad is it that the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has now gone as far as to “streamline” the many competitive pots available and allocated £125,000 a council for consultant support in drawing up bids. This much-needed money, being spent on applications may well fail anyway as the £2bn levelling-up fund is massively over-subscribed!
In the end, as the Institute for Government reports – “A third of libraries closed and 14 per cent of the bus network vanished last year alone, with those losses greatest in the poorest places. Streets have become dirtier, and parks more overgrown. Less visible, but just as important, has been the parallel loss of the administrative capability that councils require if they are to implement plans aimed at reversing chronic economic decline.”