The government will offer every English region the chance to have a “London-style mayor” in a bid to create a “globally competitive city” in every part of the UK by 2030, a landmark paper into Boris Johnson’s levelling up policy today revealed.
Johnson’s trademark policy will see the government commit to increase public research and development spending outside of the Greater South-East by 40 per cent by 2030 in a bid to to “stimulate innovation and productivity growth” in the UK’s economically deprived areas.
The levelling up white paper, out today in full, will also set out plans to create three “Innovation Accelerators” in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, and Glasgow that will “see local businesses and researchers in these areas backed by £100 million” of government funding.
It is understood that the Treasury has not given new money for the plan and that all funds will come out of existing Whitehall budgets.
The white paper also said it would fund widespread improvements in bus services and other local public transport, with a goal to make connectivity in all regions “significantly closer to the standards of London” by 2030.
It come as research from the Institue for Fiscal Studies (IFS) yesterday revealed that 28 per cent of Londoners were in relative poverty between 2016 and 2019, compared to 22 per cent across the whole UK.
The long-awaited levelling up statement sets out 12 goals in total to make the policy a success, such as creating a globally competitive city in every region by 2030 and ensuring “pay, employment and productivity” increases across the whole of the UK in this same time frame.
The government wants the gap between the top performing economic areas and the worst performing to close over the next eight years.
Boris Johnson said the plan was “the most comprehensive, ambitious plan of its kind that this country has ever seen”.
Housing and levelling up secretary Michael Gove added: “For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued. Levelling Up and this White Paper is about ending this historic injustice and calling time on the postcode lottery.”
All regions in the UK will be offered the chance to have a metro mayor with the same level powers as the mayor of London.
This would mean more control over things like public transport, housing and the police.
Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, said that the plan ” is all about combining the devolution of [ex-chancellor George Osborne] with the bigger and more activist state focused on deprived areas of the last Labour government”.
“There is a strong case for both. Whether they can be delivered very much remains to be seen,” he said.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) chief policy director Matthew Fell said that the plan “offers a blueprint for how government can be rewired and an encouraging basis for how the private sector can bring the investment and innovation to start overcoming those deep-rooted challenges, and power long term prosperity for every community, wherever they live”.
Labour shadow housing and levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said: “Boris Johnson’s answer to our communities calling for change is to shuffle the deckchairs – new government structures, recycled pots of money and a small refund on the money this Government have taken from us. This is not what we were promised. We deserve far more ambition this.”