Eight in 10 Captains of Industry feel that Government investment should focus on regions such as the north of England to grow those areas and reduce regional inequalities5 and 63% disagree that Government investment should focus on London.6 Captains see the north as offering access to a large (27%) but also a cheaper workforce (27%).
It’s no surprise that the British public support this investment too, with a recent Ipsos MORI poll showing 63% of the UK public think the levelling up agenda will be a good thing.7 Critics feel that plans so far do not go far enough to eradicate regional inequality. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said recently: “England needs to decide if it wants devolution in reality, because otherwise […] levelling up will be a slogan rather than a thing that happens.”8 The public seem to agree: two-thirds (67%) support decision-making powers being given to local and regional government – although the public resist giving local government any more tax raising powers or fiscal autonomy.9
There’s clear evidence that the levelling up agenda is popular amongst the public and business alike, although as with so many things – including Brexit – the public are sceptical about Government’s ability to undo the product of decades of letting investment follow the market south. Some 74% say it is unlikely Government will actually carry out the levelling up agenda.10
Failing to follow through threatens the Conservative electoral alliance between social conservatives in Red Wall seats, and the Conservatives of Surrey and Wiltshire – if the Red Wall voters who lent their votes to the Government in places like Bury decide nothing is getting better, once Brexit is finally done, will they still support the Government in 2024?
It’s no surprise that the British public support investment in the north