More than 18 months after The Yorkshire Post, and more than 40 newspapers, launched the Power Up The North campaign to challenge all of the main parties to tackle regional inequalities, promises by Boris Johnson and others have become devalued by the misuse of the phrase ‘levelling up’.
This misnomer is used by Ministers to create the impression that the Government is taking the concerns of ‘red wall’ voters seriously when, in many respects, this region is having to campaign even harder for a modicum of recognition, never mind more equitable funding.
But, as the annual study by the Centre for Cities think-tank shows, the number of people seeking work in parts of this region, notably Hull and Bradford, has increased five-fold in the wake of Covid and they face the nightmare prospect of years in the jobs wilderness unless the Government recognises the scale of the unfolding economic emergency.
For, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak has received many plaudits for his short-term response to the crisis, he, and his colleagues, have still to put in place the foundations for economic renewal – one that regards the North, and its 15 million residents, as worthy of investment in order to maximise the potential of the entire United Kingdom rather than as a hindrance.
Now it’s time for Ministers to be level with us over what they intend to do – and when.
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