I want 'levelling up' to give people fantastic opportunities no matter where they were born, says Chancellor Rishi Sunak

People in the North are already seeing "tangible action" on the Government's levelling-up agenda which aims to give people everywhere in the UK "fantastic opportunities", says Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Mr Sunak, the MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, cited the creation of a new UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds and a Treasury North campus in Darlington as examples of how Boris Johnson's election-winning mantra was being put into action.

Northern leaders say the levelling up agenda introduced before the 2019 General Election lacks a measurable plan that its success or failure can be judged against.

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Rishi Sunak says UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds will be in 'very good company' ...
Rishi Sunak, the MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, cited the creation of a new UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds and a Treasury North campus in Darlington as examples of how Boris Johnson's election-winning mantra was being put into action. Flickr pic from HM Treasury

When this was put to Mr Sunak on a visit to Darlington this week, he said: "The way I'll judge it and what it means to me is that wherever you grow up in the UK, that you feel that you've got fantastic opportunities.

"So if I had to reduce it to one sentence that's what I would reduce it to. And it's hard to measure that with a single metric because it means different things depending on where you are..

"So in Leeds, the UK infrastructure bank is going to be there, that's a pretty tangible sense of us shifting the economic geography of our country by moving the institutions of economic power out of London in the southeast into places like Leeds.

"Up here in Teesside it means something different. We're sitting in this soon-to-be Treasury campus. We've got a new Freeport coming which is going to create new jobs because of the investment that is attracting from companies like GE and offshore wind, the train station in Darlington is being upgraded.

"People are seeing already, I think, tangible action on it and it's all about opportunity."

The Chancellor also cited the £4.2bn available to combined authorities for investment in public transport so they can "get a London style intra-city transport deal like Transport for London has".

West Yorkshire leaders plan to bid into this fund to help end Leeds' status as the biggest city area in western Europe without a rapid mass transit system.

Mr Sunak said: "Leeds is one of our great cities, and we know that in order for our great cities to fulfil their economic potential, they need to be well connected within themselves."

And he added: "And then if you look across Yorkshire, we're also investing in high streets and town centres, so Wakefield, Morley, Scarborough, I could go on.

"There'll be close to a dozen different towns across Yorkshire that are seeing that investment in their communities. So those are all quite tangible examples."