We are being levelled-down
The government has allocated £9.7 billion of levelling up funding since 2019. But between 2010 and 2020, annual funding from the national government to local councils in England fell from £41 billion to £26 billion adjusted for inflation — and the government’s critics say pots of levelling up funding since are scant compensation.
“That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in,” said Bev Craig, the Labour leader of Manchester City Council. “None of that money comes close to what was lost.”
I know we’re in a kind of neo-politics, post-truth era (or maybe only nihilists are capable of grinding to the top of the political order), but the levelling-up agenda always appeared completely hollow from the beginning. Maybe around the early Cameron/Osborne era there was a glimmer of conviction about the process of evenly distributing the UK’s wealth, but that has been walked back (and further!) by successive governments, whose approach to the simple reality of the mathematics is: “just don’t talk about it”.
One wonders how different a Labour government would be; the level of cynicism is currently off the scale.