Sadiq Khan has said London’s poorest boroughs are “some of the most deprived” in the UK and need funding just as much as the North in response to the government’s newly unveiled levelling up white paper.
The mayor of London said he welcomed the new policy plan to help left behind areas in the North and Midlands, but that the government “must recognise that levelling up the UK must not be about levelling down London and withholding the funding and investment our capital city desperately needs”.
Research from the Institue for Fiscal Studies (IFS) this week revealed 28 per cent of Londoners were in relative poverty between 2016 and 2019, compared to 22 per cent across the whole UK.
The levelling up blueprint details how the government will prioritise research and development spending in areas outside the Greater South East, while also pumping money into local transport in areas outside of London in a bid to make connectivity in all regions “significantly closer to the standards of London” by 2030.
The policy has 11 other set goals to achieve by 2030, like ensuring “pay, employment and productivity” increases across the whole of the UK and to essentially end illiteracy in the UK.
Housing and levelling up secretary Michael Gove said his plan will have enough cash to deliver on its lofty goals , despite little extra being given to the push by Treasury.
Khan said the government should recognise the importance of the capital’s economy to the UK’s tax receipts and ensure London receives its fair share of funding.
“London has some of the most deprived communities in the country and they deserve support and funding just as much as other parts of the UK,” Khan said.
“If the government truly wants to show its commitment to levelling-up, it is also vital that it commits to properly funding the urban transport networks on which our towns and cities rely, including Transport for London (TfL).”
The 250-page levelling up report has a plethora of new policy announcements, including three new “innovation accelerators” in the West Midlands, Manchester and Glasgow.
There are also promises to redirect Arts Council funding outside of London and to give every English region a chance to have a metro mayor with similar powers to Khan.
“We need to allow overlooked and undervalued communities to take back control of their destiny,” Gove told MPs.
“Our country is an unparalleled success story, but not everyone shares in it. We need to tackle and reverse the inequality which is limiting so many of our horizons.”
Shadow housing and levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said the push comes after the Tories had been “turbocharging the decline of our communities, cutting off choices and chances for a generation of young people” over the past 12 years.
“They tell us to wait till 2030,” she said.
“But where have they been for the last 12 years?” He talks about 12 missions. This is 12 admissions of failure.”