Post-Brexit UK must prioritise left-behind communities - The Yorkshire Post says

Post-Brexit UK must prioritise left behind communities. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Post-Brexit UK must prioritise left behind communities. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

However Brexit plays out in the coming months and years, there is a desperate need for a shift in political priorities in this country to reunite an economically-divided Britain.

A new report by the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation has highlighted the poverty of opportunity which exists for many people in overlooked towns and cities which are suffering from a lack of investment in skills and transport links and failures to attract businesses.

Will living standards in UK regions by a Government priority after Brexit?  Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

Will living standards in UK regions by a Government priority after Brexit? Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

While Brexit has dominated political debate for the past three years, for most voters their key priorities are decently-paid and secure jobs - something that is sadly far from a given in too many places in this country.

One in three Yorkshire children living in poverty

Ironically, that precise situation was one of the driving factors for many in their vote to leave the European Union back in 2016 but is an issue which has generally received little attention in the negotiations and political rows which have followed the referendum vote.

Yorkshire must have fair share of post-Brexit funding to replace EU millions - Dan Jarvis

The JRF report points out that while changes are needed to improve living standards and restore pride in previously left-behind places, a vital first step will be to ensure matters do not slip back even further when £2.2bn of EU structural funds for spending in UK regions is lost after Brexit.

It says the Government must deliver the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund to at least match if not better that level of financial support.

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That would undoubtedly be a step in the right direction. But even more ambition is needed in policy and practice to address the economic and aspirational poverties across much of the UK.