Levelling up will not see richer areas lose out to improve poorer regions, PM insists

14 July 2021, 22:30 | Updated: 15 July 2021, 00:46

Boris Johnson insists levelling up does not need richer regions to lose out
Boris Johnson insists levelling up does not need richer regions to lose out. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson is set to insist his plan to "level up" parts of the country will not make rich areas poorer to benefit less well-off regions.

He is expected to describe the agenda as "win win" and pledge it will not see the Government "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Mr Johnson will set out the programme, a key ambition of his Government's, in a speech in the West Midlands on Thursday.

The Prime Minister is also expected to criticise past leaders for investing too much in London and the South East of England.

"It is vital to understand the difference between this project and levelling down," he will say, according to an extract of a speech released by Downing Street.

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"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."

The PM will claim his plans can "only be achieved with a strong and dynamic wealth-creating economy" fuelled by vaccinations from Covid-19.

Labour criticised it as an "empty husk of a speech" and claimed Mr Johnson would be "pitching people and towns against each other".

It is not known if Mr Johnson will set out specific policies but a paper on levelling up is expected in the autumn.

He will claim that previous governments were "turbo charging" places of the country where house prices are "sky high", forcing more people to move there and creating longer, more crowded commutes.

That has led to workers spending less time with their children and worrying their young ones will not be able to buy a home.

While living standards and public services should be improved in poorer parts, Mr Johnson will say levelling up is not a "jam spreading operation".

"It's not robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's not zero sum, it's win win," he will say.

But Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "Boris Johnson has overseen the worst death toll in Europe and the greatest hit to any major economy.

"Two years as Prime Minister and all we have is this empty husk of a speech that shows he has no plan for the future of our country other than pitching people and towns against each other.

"Unlike Labour, he has no plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain. He has no jobs promise for young people. And he has no recovery plan for our children."