‘No excuse for dodging scrutiny’: Labour demands report on levelling up progress

Politics

Labour is demanding the government publishes its promised progress report on “levelling up”, saying there is “no excuse for dodging scrutiny by both parliament and the public”.

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy has written to her government counterpart, Michael Gove, pointing to the pledge he made when launching the levelling up white paper one year ago on Thursday.

The 332-page document laid out 12 “missions” the government planned to complete by 2030, aiming to “make opportunity more equal and to shift wealth and power decisively towards working people and their families”.

And Mr Gove said he would “publish an annual report analysing progress” against the missions “so that levelling up is subject to rigorous external scrutiny, including by parliament”.

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In the letter, seen by Sky News, Ms Nandy wrote: “One year on, no such report has been forthcoming and there do not seem to be any plans in place to produce one.

“This is unacceptable and represents the latest in a long line of broken promises on levelling up.”

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She accused the government of “moving the goal posts” when it came to meeting their targets, claiming ministers are attempting to alter the original missions.

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Govt should have ‘honest debate’ on levelling up

And she said since the white paper was published, regional inequality had “widened”, adding: “The Levelling Up Fund is beset by delays while millions of pounds have been wasted on failed bids because of your department’s Hunger Games-style competitive bidding system.

“You have broken your manifesto promise to match previous development funding in our poorest regions, and failed to appoint a single levelling up director.

“One in 10 local bus services have been axed, train cancellations are at a record high, and we are living through a cost of living crisis that has hit communities in the north of England particularly harshly.”

The shadow minister said that, within such a context, “an honest assessment of the government’s progress towards delivering on its central election promise would not make for pretty reading – but that is no excuse for dodging scrutiny”.

Mr Gove has been contacted for a response.

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