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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

IPPR North responds to Prime Minister’s levelling up speech

Erica Roscoe, senior research fellow at IPPR North said:

“Boris Johnson promised to ‘level up’ the country in his first speech as Prime Minister. It was welcome rhetoric, but two years on our deep divides between and within regions are growing, and places like the North are still waiting for the powers, resources, and transparency they need to see from government to level up for themselves.

“The Prime Minister is right to identify that the status quo here in the UK has benefitted nobody. For too long the Treasury has held onto major decisions and has treated London and the South East as a cash cow for tax revenue, rather than seeking to deliver a good life for people. This is dysfunctional. People nowhere have benefitted – regions have been kept back and London has some of the highest levels of poverty in the country. So the need for deeds, not words, has never been more urgent.

“The evidence is clear - levelling up can only be achieved if places are empowered to level up for themselves. From better living standards, to better work, health and a better democracy – leaders across England are beginning to show the difference that devolution can make, but limits to their powers and competition for short term funding initiatives mean they cannot realise their communities’ full potential. We need a fair, transparent settlement in which power is shared between places and government – not piecemeal projects where government continues to hold all of the strings because that isn’t real, progressive devolution. The Prime Minister must let go to level up.”


Contact: Rosie Lockwood, media and campaigns manager for IPPR North, on 07585772633 or [email protected] 


IPPR North spokespeople are available for interview. 

IPPR North’s State of the North 2020/21 report which set out tests and metrics for levelling up can be found here.

IPPR North is the leading think-tank for the north of England, developing bold ideas for a stronger economy and prosperous places and people. It was shortlisted in two categories for Prospect’s ‘think tank of the year awards’ in 2020. For more information, visit