According to a former director of the civil service, leveling up risks becoming a “joke.”
Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, has warned that the Government’s flagship levelling-up program risks becoming a “joke” unless ministers rapidly specify exactly what would be achieved.
Lord Kerslake, who now leads the UK 2070 Commission, an independent examination of regional inequality, said that if clear criteria for the agenda were not specified, the Government risked a situation where “every department labels everything as levelling up.”
And he said the Government’s new levelling up adviser, Neil O’Brien, who will be working with government departments on drafting ideas for a forthcoming levelling up White Paper as part of a new No10/Cabinet Office unit established up to drive through the work, needs to launch a clear investment strategy.
The Prime Minister will lead the White Paper, which will “focus on concerns such as enhancing living standards, developing the private sector, and enhancing and spreading opportunity,” according to the government.
Lord Kerslake added that the UK 2070 Commission was eager to contribute to the process.
Lord Kerslake told the PA news agency, “We want to make a contribution to the ideas on leveling up.”
“And it’s done with genuine desire; we want leveling up to succeed; it’s not as if we’re celebrating the fact that it’s not working. Because it is such a vital objective, we want it to succeed.
Nothing is truly real if everything is (regarded as leveling up).
“And we want to really lay out the fundamentals that we believe are necessary for it to flourish, and they go back to… a long-term, large-scale plan that addresses the Commission’s ten goals, clear leadership throughout government, truly proper mechanisms of assessing success, and so on.”
The pandemic has put a stop to Boris Johnson’s leveling up plan, which he championed ahead of the 2019 election.
Ministers have insisted, however, that they will follow through on manifesto promises to bring changes, and Mr O’Brien, the Tory MP for Harborough, said, “There has never been.” (This is a brief piece.)