Business delegates and political leaders are meeting in Liverpool today to examine the ‘Levelling Up’ of the North of England.

Representatives from the public sector, such as Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, were attending the conference.

Secretary of State Michael Gove was set to discuss how the North and the Government can work together to ensure foundations are set in place that will see the North prosper for generations to come.

Mayor Joanne Anderson addressed the convention saying: “Levelling up can only happen when our council’s and frontline community services are funded properly.

“Liverpool has faced, and been the hardest hit, by 12 years of Tory cuts.

“And it’s not over; we’ve had to find £34m of savings and cuts to balance our 2022/23 budget.”

The event was organised by the Liverpool City Region and the NP11, a body which joins together the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships of the North.

The convention is taking place at The Spine, Knowledge Quarter, Liverpool.

What is levelling up?

The NP11’s slogan declares its aim as ‘Creating an inclusive, sustainable, productive economy that creates opportunity for all 15.6 million people who live in the North’ .

Its manifesto has set out five key areas that could ‘change the game’ for the North:

  1. Local control of education and training, and skills provision that is systematically connected to the North’s business and growth needs.
  2. A commitment to rebalancing the economy as a formal HM Treasury objective.
  3. A transport budget for the North.
  4. Ownership of, and freedom to lead, investment and trade activities to drive export led growth, with greater scale of investment to level up the North’s export and inward investment activities.
  5. Backing the North to lead the green industrial revolution.

Last week, Secretary of State Michael Gove revealed a 12-step mission to level up the UK by 2030 and said: “The white paper sets out a detailed strategy to make opportunity more equal and to shift wealth and power decisively toward working people and their families.”

What is the governments proposal?

  1. Improvements in pay rate, employment and productivity.

2. Domestic public investment in Research & Development outside the Greater South East will increase by at least 40%.

3.  Local public transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London.

4. The UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population.

5.  The number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased.

6.  The number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK.

7.  The gap in Healthy Life Expectancy between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed,

8.  Well-being will have improved in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.

9. People’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK.

10. Renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas.

11. Homicide, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime will have fallen, focused on the worst-affected areas.

12. Every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.

Watch a parliamentary video of the levelling up white paper debate here.

Labour’s response

The proposals however have been slammed by the shadow cabinet.

Leader of the Labour party Keir Starmer said: “Lots of words, lots of bluster..no answers. Taxes are going up because of low growth.”

He added: “The growth was much much weaker than under the labour government. If the Tories had matched our record we would have £30 billion more to spend on public services without having to raise a single tax.”

“The Tories have failed to raise the economy for over a decade.”

Labour’s Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, Lisa Nandy, responded: “Ministers have had two and a half years to get this right and all we been given is more slogans and strategies, with few new ideas…this is not what we were promised. We deserve far more ambition this.”

 

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