Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram say Levelling Up should be 'hard-wired' into law

Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram will attend the Conference of the North in Manchester Credit: PA Images

Metro mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham say Levelling Up should be “hard wired” into UK law to force governments to provide equal living standards across the nation.

The proposal would change the current competitive bidding system, where different towns and cities bid for government money, to more long-term funding settlements, it is claimed.

The move comes ahead of the Convention of the North at Manchester Central on Wednesday 25 January - a gathering of business, political and civic leaders from across the North.

Speakers included the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove MP as well as the shadow secretary and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.

Andy Burnham, Mayor for Greater Manchester, said: “Hard-wiring levelling up into UK law would move us away from policy by press release and start to tackle the unequal living standards we have in our country.

“Our own history has shown us that, too often, the North struggles to get to the top of the Government’s to-do list – whichever political party is in charge.

"That’s why we need to hard-wire levelling up into UK law and unlock the potential of the North to help the whole country thrive.”

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City region added: “For every minute on the roughly two-hour train journey from the Liverpool City Region to London, household income per head falls by £155.

“Delivering proper levelling up – which should be more about tackling entrenched inequalities than vanity projects and photo ops at shiny buildings – is something that must be above party politics.”

Support for the move comes from:

  • Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region

  • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

  • Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire

  • Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

  • Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of the North of Tyne.

The Government announced the latest Levelling Up Fund winners last week, which saw some local authorities receive funding, while others lost out.

Critics claim the cash being spent is skewed towards areas with Conservative MPs or councils, which the Government denies. Rishi Sunak said this was "simply untrue".

The Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove insisted the latest round of investment is “specifically tilted towards the North, the Midlands, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland”.

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