Local London has welcomed the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper but will seek assurances from Government about the Capital’s position in this agenda.
The Levelling Up White Paper, which was announced by Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP yesterday, outlines 12 missions to solve inequality between richer and poorer parts of the United Kingdom with a new measurement regime to illustrate progress.
Local London will be engaging with the Secretary of State’s team and civil servants to discuss how East London’s specific challenges around deprivation, inequality, and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on our communities, can be addressed. The sub-regional partnership is open to dialogue around how this can be achieved.
Wide-ranging funding promises to support the delivery of those 12 missions do not specifically target money at this, or any other deprived part of the Capital. The move contradicts comments by Levelling Up Minister Neil O’Brien in Parliament this week that London “would not be levelled down” by this policy.
The Local London sub-region, which includes the boroughs of Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Barking & Dagenham, Newham, Bexley, Greenwich, Enfield, and Havering, has long argued this area suffers similar inequalities, poverty, and denial of opportunity, to parts of the north. Midlands, and west in the so-called ‘red wall’ seats.
Indeed, the EU had classified the sub-region as ‘less developed’ for funding purposes alongside former industrial regions like West Wales, Teesside, Lincolnshire, and Cornwall and Scilly Isles.
In October 2021, a report by the highly regarded think tank Localis, called ‘Levelling Up and Local London’ concluded we have some of the highest levels of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and enjoy lower economic productivity (GVA) per head than anywhere else in the capital let alone the Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region or West Midlands combined authorities.
Further, parts of this sub-region have suffered disproportionate impacts from the pandemic, especially around unemployment.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Chairman of Local London, said: “While we welcome the Government’s focus on levelling up, the application of it as set out in the white paper announcement, falls short in our view.
“We will be seeking opportunities to engage with the Secretary of State and his team on the details of the White Paper to ensure that Local London is not forgotten in this agenda.
“The Levelling Up White Paper promises to narrow the gap between rich and poor. To do that successfully, policy decisions and funding arrangements must be focused on need and not geography.
“Once again, the challenge of London has not been acknowledged. We have argued London cannot be treated as a monolith for levelling up purposes because its size and complexity skews the reality. The European Union understood that and segmented London into five sub-regions to recognise its socio-economic differences and funded accordingly. The Government have missed that opportunity.
“We can promise communities and residents in east London we will continue making our case on their behalf.”