Boris Johnson was able to ‘get Brexit done’ and his number one priority was his much-talked about levelling up agenda. 

The policy was designed to show the new Red Wall voters that he – and the Tories – were serious about tackling regional inequality in the country. 

When coronavirus struck it was hard to keep up with the pace of life, but it is now back on track. 

Earlier this month at the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister declared the UK to be ‘not only one of the most imbalanced in the developed world, it is also one of the most centralised – and those two defects are obviously connected’. 

He said the UK was lopsided, announcing a ‘levelling-up premium’ worth up to £3,000 to encourage science and maths teachers to head to different areas of the country. 

Then came Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, who said Wednesday that levelling up was all about’restoring people’s pride in their homes’ and adding that it would improve the infrastructure of everyday living’ across the UK. 

‘Levelling Up’ is also about protecting our unique culture or heritage. He said, “The British Museum and Tate Liverpool, the York Railway Museum.” 

He also unveiled the first winners from the Levelling Up Fund, a £4.8billion spending pot that was announced in March’s Budget. 

So far £1.7billion has been dished out to more than 100 infrastructure projects across the UK. 

They will be completed in the next four years. 

The North West and North East were the largest recipients, followed by Yorkshire and Humber and the Midlands and Scotland. London and the East of England received the least. 

The projects vary in scale and size and although the fund was primarily designed for schemes costing up to £20m, some exceptions were made.

A new South Derby ‘growth zone’ and an upgrade to ferries to the Isles of Scilly both received nearly £50m from the fund. 

Other successful bids included the reopening in County Durham of the oldest suspension bridge, the redevelopment in Leicester of Leicester train station, and the Mersey Ferry service in Woodside. 

In Scotland the stunning Inverness Castle will get a facelift, while £39m will be invested in transport links in Renfrewshire and £24m will be spent on improving the B714 road in North Ayrshire. 

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales and the Canal World Heritage Site are to be revitalized. 

Three projects will be undertaken in Stoke alone. 

They include two large housing projects that will create 450 homes in City Centre and regenerate The Goods Yard site.

Sunak remarked that some funds were going towards local authorities and constituencies represented Labour MPs. He added: “We are so committed at levelling up, we’re even levelling down the Opposition front bench.” 

Lee Anderson, MP from Ashfield and a Red Wall Tory said that it was long overdue. These are traditionally Labour constituencies that are receiving investment from The Tories. 

‘The industrial heartland is gone and these areas have struggled – we need better jobs, health and education.’ 

Anderson added that the Tories have also shown their commitment to the North with huge transport projects like the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, HS2 and the Teesside Freeport. Stephen Church, partner at EY, a professional services network, stated that the Government had pledged to take real action on the levelling up agenda through the Budget and Spending Review. We welcome the £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund, which has identified the first 105 places to receive funding for local transport. 

‘This is crucial in order to help level up the economy, as the UK strives to tackle entrenched regional inequalities and close the skills gap.’ 

However, the levelling-up agenda has caused divisions, especially among Tory MPs who feel that the Conservative Party is pandering to its new voter base in North and the Midlands. 

London received just £65m in funding for six projects, despite being home to some of the poorest parts of Europe. 

Whitechapel Road in east London will receive £9m, while a music centre will be upgraded in southwest London. 

According to the Centre for London thinktank, capital received the lowest per capita investment of any part in the UK. 

Whereas Wales received £38 per head from the fund, London received just £7.22. 

Bob Neill MP for Bromley & Chislehurst says that the ‘levelling up’ of London and the South of England is a genuine fear that contributed to the Tories’ heavy defeat at the Chesham & Amersham by-elections in June. 

He stated that the election showed that the Tories could not take traditional Tory areas or voters for granted. Parts of London must be levelled up, and this should not be done on a geographical basis. I can see why it is being done – after the last election the Tories have to try and retain those votes in traditional industrial Labour areas.’

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