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Sat, 4 February 2023

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By Dr Simon Kaye
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Levelling up remains at the heart of the government’s plans despite the change of personnel

Levelling up remains at the heart of the government’s plans despite the change of personnel

(Alamy)

3 min read

It has been a time of change. I was appointed levelling up minister eight weeks ago and have already seen a couple of faces come and go. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed – this government’s mission to level up the country.

For me levelling up is why I got involved in politics. I am a proud northerner who represents a northern seat. But for too long, people where I’m from have not had same opportunities as those in some parts of London and the South East.

I would not have taken this job if I didn’t think that levelling up was a priority for this government. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t underestimate the challenge we face. But with the brilliant team around me and with the full backing of the Prime Minister, we can achieve great things. 

My vision for levelling up mirrors that of my new boss, Michael Gove, now back in the saddle at the department.

I believe, as I know he does, that to tackle deep-rooted regional inequalities, we need a truly localised approach. That means local people, local councils and local groups making decisions. It’s not about what Whitehall thinks is best for Blackpool, Blyth or Birmingham – it’s about local areas telling politicians and ministers what they need for their communities to thrive.

My view is that sometimes Westminster needs to get out of people’s way. They know their communities best and it is up to us to give them the freedom to do their thing. Already this year we have announced historic devolution deals for York and North Yorkshire and the East Midlands which will get a directly elected mayor and a big cash injection.

And I’ve seen first-hand what impact these local leaders can have on their communities. Last week I met the mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who through force of personality and political savvy has made the Midlands synonymous with levelling up.

It was clear from our chat how much he cares about improving the area for local people, whether that is through game-changing regeneration or encouraging more businesses to set up shop.

Without local support, without local ideas and energy, we can’t make levelling up happen. And failure isn’t an option.

These improvements are pushed through by local leaders with support from us, and they can be totally transformational for people living there.

That doesn’t mean directly elected mayors are the answer for every area. But that’s the point – there isn’t a one size fits all approach here. We need to let people, businesses, and leaders in each place tell us what they need.

They also need more taxpayer cash returned from Whitehall to be spent on local priorities. Programmes like the new National Brownfield Institute – funded with £14.9m from our Getting Building Fund and on the cutting edge of research and development in the construction industry.

This project will deliver new jobs and develop new technologies to support green growth, all for the benefit of local people.

I will be going out every single week to see these projects that we’ve helped to support – whether that is through the Getting Building Fund, the Levelling Up Fund, the Community Ownership Fund, or the Community Renewal Fund. If there are projects in your constituency you want to shine a spotlight on, please do reach out to my office! 

Without local support, without local ideas and energy, we can’t make levelling up happen. And failure isn’t an option. 

As your levelling up minister, take my word for it: this government will work night and day to ensure that wherever people live, whatever their background, they can be proud of the place they call home and will be given every opportunity to succeed. 

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Read the most recent article written by Dehenna Davison MP - Our ambitious levelling up agenda will unlock the potential of the entire country

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