58% of Brits don't know what 'levelling up' policy is while ministers also unclear, reports find

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener hears what people in South Shields and the Scottish town of Hawick think of the 'levelling up' policy

If you're confused about what levelling up means, you're not alone.

According to an exclusive report for ITV News from the Institute for Government (IFG), ministers are also unclear about what the policy means. The report found that for some it meant helping poorer people, for example by improving skills, but for others it was all about regenerating places through investment in town centres and infrastructure.

Eleanor Shearer from the Institute for Government criticises the levelling up policy

Eleanor Shearer from IFG told us: "The risk without clear measurements and clear criteria for success is that you get money, effort, time spread too thinly across a bunch of different, possibly contradictory policy priorities."

Filming in South Shields in the North East of England, we found that good jobs were the main priority of sixth-formers at St Wilfrid's RC College, part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust.

They doubted levelling up would provide them and all thought they would have to move away from their home town.

Sixth-formers give their views on the levelling up policy

But the Labour MP for South Shields Emma Lewell-Buck believes a bid for £20 million from the government's levelling-up fund could help regenerate the town.

The local further education college is hoping to move to a new campus in the town centre, which the MP believes will mean more young people congregate there and use the shops.

Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck says South Shields could greatly benefit from a slice of the fund

A separate survey for ITV News by the Centre for Cities found that out of 3,000 respondents, 58% didn't understand what levelling up meant.

In Scotland, the percentage jumped to 71% - the highest anywhere in Britain. When it was explained to them, just 43% were confident they would be levelled up.

On the high street in Hawick - a Scottish former mill town that has fallen on hard times - there are many boarded up shops. But one that has survived is run by butcher Lindsay Grieve.

He hopes that if they get funding for a new railway from Edinburgh to Carlisle, it could transform the town's fortunes. At the moment, the nearest station is 18 miles away.

Lindsay Grieve, a butcher from Scotland, says politicians need to "get a move on" and spend money where it's needed

The local MSP couldn't say exactly where the levelling up funding will go - but maintains there are other sources of funding being explored for the railway extension. She insists levelling up will make a difference.

The newly named Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government) responded to our report, explaining what levelling up means.

A statement said: “Levelling up is about spreading opportunity, boosting living standards and improving public services so that every part of the UK can thrive.

“By empowering local leaders and giving communities more control to shape the places they live in, we are creating more vibrant places to live and work which will give more people a real sense of local pride.

“The Government will publish a White Paper that will drive forward our central mission to level up every corner of the UK.”

Clearly levelling up does mean different things to different people - including ministers. It's hoped a White Paper due this Autumn will clarify what exactly the Government hopes to achieve.