Monday 25 January 2021 2:57 pm

PM's plan to 'level up' UK made four-times harder by Covid, says think tank

Boris Johnson’s plan to “level up” economically deprived areas of the country has been made four-times harder thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new think tank report.

The Centre for Cities’ annual report also found the pandemic will have negative long-term economic effects for London and the South East, with a stark increase of people from these regions now receiving welfare.

The report found that 634,000 people outside the “Greater South East” now need to find employment to decrease national economic discrepancies, compared to 170,000 people before the pandemic.

Birmingham, Hull, Blackpool, Bradford and Liverpool have been set back the farthest by the Covid crisis, according to the study.

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The Centre for Cities said the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits in London has increased by 4.9 percent – the fourth-highest increase among large cities and towns.

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: “At the last election the government pledged to level up the North and Midlands, but now there is a very real risk that London could be levelled down – at least in the short-term.

“This will have damaging consequences for the whole country, which depends on the capital to create jobs and fund public services.

“Stopping London’s levelling down and helping the North and Midlands recover will not be cheap and will require more than short-term handouts.”