Conservatives 'must address series of crises' says Harrop
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The Conservative Government is currently struggling under the load of petrol and food shortages; something only a legion of HGV drivers could remove. The ongoing conference has drawn these issues into focus, with MPs and party members urgently trying to shift the narrative to their accomplishments. One of the most promising pillars of the party’s 2019 manifesto – “Levelling Up” – has given ministers a chance to reinvigorate public confidence.
Michael Gove, who, as of the latest reshuffle heads the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, took to the conference stage today.
Addressing conference attendees, he revealed the “four things” that define Levelling Up.
The first, he said, meant strengthening local leadership to “drive real change”.
The next priority is raising living standards, “especially where they are lower”, before moving to improve public services.
The final of those four pillars is resource management, as Mr Gove wants to give people what they need to “enhance the pride they feel in the place they live”.
Mr Gove is the head of his department and gets to decide the direction it will take.
But whether or not he can deliver on these priorities is not up to him.
As some commentators have noted, funds allocation is a cross-departmental concern.
If he could realise these pledges alone, he would have more unilateral power than any other minister.
The Treasury and Chancellor will ultimately need to have their say in his plans.
Any spending boosts would have to go through Rishi Sunak, who is preaching economic responsibility.
He also took to the stage at the conference today, where he delivered a well-received speech on the “need to fix public finances”.
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Mr Gove will need to realise his commitments amid Universal Credit cuts and increasing National Insurance contributions.
Starting next year, people will have to fork over an additional 1.25 percent, which ministers will set aside to fix the ailing social care sector.
Experts have warned both of these would directly impact the Levelling Up agenda.
Many communities north of London, which fall under the scheme, already have lower wages than anywhere else in the country.
Northern Britons are amongst the most reliant on Universal Credit as well.
Data shows 14 of the worst areas hit by cuts are in the north, including Nottingham, Manchester and Middlesborough.
If the Government commits to its plans, it will slip vital support out from under these people.
And this would hurt the Levelling Up agenda, preventing Mr Gove from realising the “raising living standards” aspect of his plan.
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