As the government pursues its “levelling up” programme Boris Johnson is to promise he will not make the “rich parts” of the UK poorer.
In a speech today, the prime minister will say plans to invest more in deprived areas and improve skills are not a “jam-spreading exercise”. He will also pledge to improve services and boost community pride once more detailed plans are laid out this autumn.
The Conservatives first promised to “level up” the country in their manifesto for the 2019 general election, in which they targeted and won the so-called “red wall” parliamentary seats in the Midlands and northern England which had previously been dominated by Labour.
The plan, some of which has already been outlined, involves investing in transport, skills and businesses to address regional disparities. More details will be announced in September but just this week a group of 50 Conservative MPs called for extra investment for northern England to deal with the economic impact of the Covid pandemic.
In his speech, to be delivered in the West Midlands, the prime minister will say:
“The government will have made progress in levelling up when we have begun to raise living standards, spread opportunity, improved our public services and restored people’s sense of pride in their community”.
But Mr Johnson will stress that there will not be “levelling down” in prosperous places:
“We don’t want to decapitate the tall poppies. We don’t think you can make the poor parts of the country richer by making the rich parts poorer. It’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s not zero-sum. It’s win-win.”