Exposed: Levelling Up cluelessness of Ministers – The Yorkshire Post says

IF PUBLIC – and political – confidence in ‘levelling up’ is to be maintained, it requires total clarity from the Government on the objectives and how the success of policies will be measured.

In summary, the attention to detail that Paul Scully, the Small Business Minister, and Luke Hall, the Local Government Minister, did not, or could not, offer the House of Commons.

Both unconvincing and clueness, their bluster bordered, at times, upon the embarrassing as MPs on the Business Select Committee asked very predictable questions about the definition of levelling up.

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Could they help? No. Effectively MPs – and all those people whose futures depend on this agenda – will have to wait, they said, for a White Paper later this year and the creation of a new Downing Street policy unit, presumably unaccountable, that will control matters.

The Government is still to explain its levelling up objectives for Northern cities like Leeds.

After all, they couldn’t even explain how Local Enterprise Partnerships fit into the Government growth’s plan as they became bogged down by the minutiae of a Whitehall machine which clearly stifles collaboration. No wonder Darren Jones, the committee’s exasperated chair, advised at one point that it is often better to say “don’t know” if flummoxed by a question.

Yet ‘levelling up’ – the successor to the Northern Powerhouse – should be quite straightforward to define; namely giving the most investment and opportunities, across a range of policies, to those areas, and families, that, at present have the least.

The problem is the extent to which the Government is favouring areas that are advantageous to the Tory party’s electoral aims. And the risk is that areas that were disadvantaged before the pandemic will, instead, become even more ‘left behind’ in the years to come, a salient point totally lost on two obfuscating Ministers who merely offered an object lesson in how not to be level with Parliament – or the country.

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Boris Johnson is setting up a new policy unit in Downing Street to co-ordinate levelling up policy.