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Tories’ ‘levelling-up’ agenda set to fail, new report predicts

MOST of Britain’s fastest-growing city economies will be in southern or eastern England by 2024, a new report suggests, showing that the Tories “have no interest” in the rest of the nation.

The government’s supposed commitment to “levelling up” will fail unless more is done to help local economies elsewhere, warned the report published by law firm Irwin Mitchell.

The dominance of London and the south-east in foreign direct investment contribute to England’s north-south economic divide, Irwin Mitchell said. 

The report, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, concludes that out of 50 locations studied, over half of the slowest-growing economies are expected to be in the north by December 2023.

Warrington is due to be the fastest-growing city in the region, but it only comes in 20th place overall.

The economies expanding most rapidly are predicted to be those of Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Reading, Oxford, Brighton, inner London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Southampton and Swindon.

The study also found that many of the areas with more sluggish growth, such as Aberdeen, Wolverhampton, Hull and Plymouth, have declining industries. 

Irwin Mitchell’s Bryan Bletso said: “The whole of the UK has a lot to offer and the regions which benefit most from investment from abroad are likely to see more growth and job creation in the coming years.”

Labour’s Jon Trickett said the news “reinforces the view that the Tories have no interest in all the other regions and nations of the UK.

“The scars and divisions created by the government’s neoliberal economics run deep,” the MP for Hemsworth in West Yorkshire told the Morning Star. 

“It’s time for a radical, transformative politics which can end the deepening class divide and build a country based on the principles of social justice.”

The levelling-up agenda could also be hit by the government’s commitment to “promote competitiveness” in the financial sector after Brexit, former business secretary Sir Vince Cable has warned.

In an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, signed by nearly 60 academics and experts, the ex-Liberal Democrat leader said that proposals to make boosting competitiveness a statutory objective for financial services regulators could spark a “harmful race to the bottom.”

The plan could also enable companies in the sector to take risks and then dump the costs on taxpayers if they fail, similar to the events which led to the 2008 financial crash, the letter argues. 

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