Levelling up the UK

David Little, Partner in Bishop & Sewell’s Corporate and Commercial Team

Our busy Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, can’t stay out of the news at present. Michael Gove has at a swipe sorted out the cladding crisis, announced his divorce from Sarah Vine and now he’s going to redistribute wealth around the UK. Anyone might think there was a potential leadership opportunity in Downing Street, writes David Little, a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team at solicitors Bishop and Sewell.

The government’s 300+ page Levelling Up the UK White Paper is already receiving criticism for not addressing the public’s top concern. According to a Trades Union Congress (TUC) survey half (49%) of the British public think increasing the number and quality of jobs available should be front and centre of the plan for levelling up, according to the poll of 1,656 UK adults.

This is a popular opinion across the political spectrum as 49% of those who voted Conservative in the 2019 general election want more and better jobs, along with 56% Labour voters 54% of Liberal Democrat voters.

Reported here older people also want the government to focus on jobs as 52% of those aged over 65 supported better jobs to level up the UK.

Some 3.6 million working people are in insecure work in the UK and the size of the gig economy has almost tripled over the past five years, according to separate research by the TUC.

One million children in key worker households live in poverty, the TUC said, highlighting the impact of low-paid and insecure work in the UK.

The TUC also wants the government to, “Invest in good green jobs in industries of the future and give key workers the decent pay rise they deserve.

“Everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work and paid a wage they can live on. But for too many in the UK, work isn’t paying the bills,” said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.

“After more than a decade of lost pay and with the cost-of-living crisis taking its toll, it’s time ministers got their priorities right. We can’t level up the country without levelling up work.”

According to the Government’s website: “Levelling up is a moral, social and economic programme for the whole of government. The Levelling Up White Paper is a flagship document that sets out how we will spread opportunity more equally across the UK. It comprises a bold programme of systems change, including 12 UK-wide missions to anchor the agenda to 2030, alongside specific policy interventions that build on the 2021 Spending Review to deliver change now.”

This sounds a rather harsh indictment of his own government given Mr Gove’s party has held office since 2010? Surely ample time to have addressed some of these issues of inequality?

But let’s wish it every success, although it is only a White Paper – a declaration of future intent, rather than cold hard policy. In order for levelling up to actually happen it would probably require Mr Gove to be our Prime Minister… Fancy that.

David Little is a Partner in Bishop and Sewell’s Corporate & Commercial team. Should you require any further advice or assistance, please contact him quoting reference CB281 on +44 (0)20 7079 4143 or email: [email protected]

About Bishop & Sewell LLP
Bishop & Sewell is a long-established, full service Central London law firm – with an international reach – specialising in Personal, Property and Commercial legal matters. To learn more, visit www.bishopandsewell.co.uk