The government has announced plans to publish a Levelling Up White Paper this year, with the Prime Minister taking personal charge.
A new No10 – Cabinet Office Unit will be set up to drive through work on the White Paper, with the involvement of the Prime Minister’s new Levelling Up Adviser, Neil O’Brien, MP for Harborough.
According to a government statement, the White Paper will articulate ‘how bold new policy interventions will improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country as we recover from the pandemic’.
It will focus on challenges including improving living standards, growing the private sector and increasing and spreading opportunity.
The government statement adds that: ‘Despite the challenges of Covid-19, levelling up and ensuring that the whole UK can benefit from the same access to opportunities remains core to the government’s vision.
Levelling up, the statement adds, accompanies work being undertaken to repair the damage done by Covid to public services, with backlogs in hospitals and courts prioritised alongside school catch ups and jobs.
Neil O’Brien MP said:
‘Levelling up has been a real passion of mine for many years, and I’m incredibly excited by the Prime Minister’s agenda.
‘After such a challenging year, there has never been a better time to unite and level up the country. It’s absolutely crucial that we bring opportunity to every single part of the UK by making sure our spending, tax, investment and regeneration priorities bring about meaningful change’
According to Jonathan Walker, ChronicleLive’s Political Editor, the development reveals something of a change of direction for the government. Last year, he says, there were plans for an “English Devolution and Local Recovery” White Paper led by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which focused on encouraging more regional mayors and unitary councils. These plans now appear to have been replaced by the new White Paper, and instead of being led by Luke Hall, the minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, the ‘Levelling Up’ programme is being led by Boris Johnson personally.