EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Tory dither and inadequate action is causing ‘Levelling Up’ to become just a pipe dream

“Levelling Up” has been a Tory slogan since Boris Johnson took over the leadership of the party in 2019 and now is as rudderless and lost as the party itself.

“The Bill was due to return to the floor of the House of Commons this week but has been derailed by a row between the Tories.”
“The Bill was due to return to the floor of the House of Commons this week but has been derailed by a row between the Tories.”

The idea was to bring investment to parts of the country that had been left behind by years of focus on the South-East - cementing inequality within the UK and dooming the North-East to the worst child poverty levels in the country.

This investment, both public and private, was backed up by the Levelling Up Bill which reached the floor of the House of Commons this week.

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As a North-Eastern MP, I take my role on the c ommittee scrutinising this Bill very seriously and recognise the opportunity to insert important clauses into it that force the Government to make binding commitments to increasing manufacturing output, reducing inequality and ensuring they deliver on the promises made in the Bill.

I recently tabled amendments to include measurements on manufacturing output and food insecurity in the Bill, because what is measured gets mended.

These are two key areas for the North-East and are directly linked to ensuring any Government is bound to the reduction of poverty in the region.

I also tabled amendments on the accountability of local councillors and planning processes which are vital for the implementation of local-level initiatives and allowing constituents greater participation in their local democracies.

But, as is becoming par for the course for the chaotic Conservatives, infighting has delayed any meaningful change yet again.

The Bill was due to return to the floor of the House of Commons this week but has been derailed by a row between the Tories over housebuilding targets and onshore wind farms after just one day. This Prime Minister is as unable to control his MPs as the last.

The Levelling-Up Bill is now having its return to the House delayed into next year – which is frankly unacceptable.

The Bill is a very large piece of legislation and needs to be given proper scrutiny but after years of dither and inadequate action on “Levelling Up” the slogan remains a pipe dream whilst vulnerable people in the North-East suffer, manufacturing is held back and inequality deepens.