MICHAEL GOVE: Britain's a jet plane that needs to fire on all engines

MICHAEL GOVE: Britain's a jet plane that needs to fire on all engines

February 1, 2022

MICHAEL GOVE: Britain’s a jet plane that needs to be firing on all its engines… not just the one in the South East and London

It’s time for change. After two long Covid years we need to get this country moving at top speed again. We need faster growth, quicker public services, higher wages, and a power shift to the people. There is talent everywhere in the UK ready to be harnessed. But one thing still holds us back.

While talent is spread equally across the UK, opportunity is not. Our country is a success story, but not everyone is sharing in it. The further you are from one of our great capitals – whether it’s London, Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast – the tougher life can be.

That has to change. We need to tackle, and reverse, the inequality that is limiting so many horizons, and which also harms our economy. The gap between much of the South East and the rest of the country – in productivity, health outcomes, wages, school results and job opportunities – must be closed. That is what levelling up means.

It’s time for change. After two long Covid years we need to get this country moving at top speed again. We need faster growth, quicker public services, higher wages, and a power shift to the people. There is talent everywhere in the UK ready to be harnessed. But one thing still holds us back

It doesn’t mean neglecting those areas of deprivation in the South East where problems persist, it doesn’t mean doing anything to undermine the economic success of London, Europe’s premier city, nor does it mean dampening down the animal spirits of those already powering innovation and enterprise.

But it does mean recognising that the UK economy is like a jet firing on only one engine. And taking the steps necessary to power up every part of the country.

That means clearing the path for the businesses and investors who will bring new jobs and wealth, ensuring the Northern Powerhouse becomes a manufacturing mecca once again and giving the makers of the Midlands the support they need to succeed.

We’ll make it easier for the private sector to invest and grow. Outside the EU we can change the rules currently holding back pension funds and private sector bodies from investing in the productive capital that industry needs. And also, as a direct result of Brexit, we can change the procurement rules which were designed to support the EU single market and instead invest British money in British firms and British jobs.

Levelling up will only succeed if we unleash the power of business to grow. That’s why we’ve been working with entrepreneurs as well as big industry players in Humberside and Teesside to lay the ground for high-wage, high-skill jobs growth

Levelling up will only succeed if we unleash the power of business to grow. That’s why we’ve been working with entrepreneurs as well as big industry players in Humberside and Teesside to lay the ground for high-wage, high-skill jobs growth.

Levelling up is, however, about much more than just addressing economic inequality by backing British business. It’s also about shifting power closer to local people and setting ambitious missions to improve schools, life expectancy, scientific innovation, home ownership and other vital areas of our common life.

Next week the Prime Minister and I will launch the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper which sets out those missions as part of a decade-long plan to see the potential of every corner of the United Kingdom fulfilled.

Underpinning those missions will be a decisive shift of power away from Whitehall and an equally powerful deployment of more money for the North, Midlands and other areas overlooked and undervalued in the past. We will give existing mayors in our great cities new powers, create new mayors and strengthen the hand of local leaders across the country with new powers. We’ll also give them control of the funds to improve local communities which the EU used to manage and free them from the European bureaucracy that controlled how that cash was spent.

Next week the Prime Minister and I will launch the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper which sets out those missions as part of a decade-long plan to see the potential of every corner of the United Kingdom fulfilled

And we will also ensure the billions the Chancellor made available in the Spending Review are directed to the North, Midlands, coastal towns, and other areas neglected in the past

And we will also ensure the billions the Chancellor made available in the Spending Review are directed to the North, Midlands, coastal towns, and other areas neglected in the past.

Research and development money – the cash which sparks innovation – is going up. We’ll use that extra investment to support scientists, researchers and innovators outside London and the South East. This will mean billions of pounds of investment that can turbo-charge growth in the North and Midlands. That’s alongside the largest and most ambitious Government programme of investment ever in the railway, with a £96 billion plan delivering faster rail in the Midlands and the North.

There is also extra funding for schools, and housing cash will go North as well.

Since 2015, because of an absurd set of rules I inherited, we have spent over £1.6 billion of public money on land and infrastructure for housing in the South East, and less than £150 million in the North East. I am scrapping these rules and focusing on transforming brownfield sites in the North and Midlands which will help relieve the pressure on the green fields and infrastructure of the South East as well.

As part of this, we will regenerate the centres of 20 great, historic towns and cities, starting with Wolverhampton and Sheffield.

Government offices, and officials, and the spending power they bring are moving north too. My department’s second headquarters is in Wolverhampton, with other departments to follow in North Wales and Teesside

Government offices, and officials, and the spending power they bring are moving north too. My department’s second headquarters is in Wolverhampton, with other departments to follow in North Wales and Teesside.

We’ll also ensure the money working people have invested on their behalf for their retirement helps create jobs in their communities, not rake-offs for the already rich. We will set out a new plan to get the £16 billion of council pensions invested in local projects, not foreign corporations.

The money we spend on culture has been over-concentrated in London and the South East for too long as well. My brilliant colleague the Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, is ending that.

The money we spend on culture has been over-concentrated in London and the South East for too long as well. My brilliant colleague the Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, is ending that

The new funding she’s secured for the arts will go to communities in the North and Midlands, not Not-ting Hill and Marylebone. And Nadine will make sure that it’s the values of working people, not just the preferences of Primrose Hill, that drive how taxpayers’ money is spent on culture.

Levelling up means not only investing in communities that have been overlooked but overcoming the metropolitan condescension that has meant working people and their values have been neglected and patronised.

In 1974, a Labour Government promised an irreversible shift of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families. It never happened on their watch. Margaret Thatcher did effect that change, though, with more and more people owning their own homes, owning shares and taking control of their lives.

It’s time now for a similar blast of radical energy to ensure oppor-tunity is spread even further and faster – and to show that for working people and their families that this Conservative Government is on their side.

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