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Levelling up? Regional inequality INCREASING, damning new report finds

A DAMNING new report has exposed the myth of the Tories’ “levelling up” project, with regional inequalities increasing and thousands more people suffering poverty in the north.

The report published today by think tank IPPR North says that the widening gulf proves that the government’s rhetoric is far removed from reality.

It warns that money awarded to the north for “levelling up” are insignificant compared with the vast sums lost through Westminster’s cuts to northern public spending.

The 2021 allocations of the Levelling Up Fund, which is controlled by central government, is an investment of just £32 per person in the north, the report states.

This compares with a £413 per person drop in the north, and a £388 drop across England, in annual council service spending over the last decade, it found.

The report says that for every job created in the north almost three were created in London and south-east England.

And it warns that in-work poverty has risen in the north from 3.4 million people affected in 2009-10 to 3.5 million in 2019-20.

The group monitored government progress on “levelling up” pledges and found that many had been “broken, scaled back or represent a reduction to other pots of funding they replace.”

Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck in the north-east of England, said: “It is clear as day to anyone living up in the north that absolutely no progress has been made to ‘level up’ the region in the past two years and, if anything, the disastrous handling of the pandemic has ingrained more deeply the regional divide that looms large over this country. 

“Poverty, child poverty in particular, has risen at a truly frightening pace in the north-east, including in my constituency of Wansbeck.”

He said the situation would worsen through “huge increases expected in the cost of living.”

Labour MP for Salford & Eccles Rebecca Long Bailey said: “The government is not ‘levelling up’ despite all their bluster.

“Life expectancy was falling dramatically in many areas across the north-west even before the pandemic hit.”

Yorkshire & Humber TUC secretary Bill Adams said: “The Tories promised the people of the north a ‘levelling-up’ project at the last election, and there are still no meaningful plans to improve the lives of voters across the north.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities was contacted for comment.

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