I have written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to highlight my concerns about the future of the Shared Prosperity Fund and the effectiveness of the ‘levelling up’ agenda as a result of the Governments ‘Growth Plan’. You can read my letter below and find a plain text version at the bottom of the page.
The Growth Plan 2022 and Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
Last week the Government announced The Growth Plan 2022, the sixth such strategy for growth in the 12 years of Conservative governance. The impact this announcement had on inflation and the economy will come at a great cost to many, further pushing up the cost of living and mortgage payments.
I have spoken in Parliament often about the need to make sure that the Government’s levelling up agenda is more than a meaningless slogan. An analysis published today, WPI’s Levelling Up Index, found that Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough ranks as the 59th most in need constituency of levelling up.
As Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, raised in The Yorkshire Post the plan would give more money to millionaires than to the entire North. This is an outrage and further reiterates this Government’s policy of starving the North of the significant investment it needs. The Conservatives have presided over failing public transport networks, have not sufficiently created high-wage, high-skilled employment and are now taking more money from people’s pockets by failing to manage the economy effectively.
The plan delivers significantly more for high earners in London and the South East than it does for the entirety of Yorkshire and the Humber. What steps are you taking to redress this imbalance and ensure constituencies like mine are not further left behind?
In response to my previous letter highlighting my concerns with the UK Shared Prosperity fund, Lia Nici MP wrote on 25 August that “Our approach aims to empower local areas, like South Yorkshire.” I struggle to see how local areas can be empowered following the publication of the Growth Plan. The Shared Prosperity Fund did not receive a single mention in the plan and the concerning economic circumstances have led Treasury ministers to call for ‘efficiency savings’ in Government departments. The Prime Minister had promised no spending cuts when campaigning over the Summer, can you assure me that these savings will not impact the existing Shared Prosperity Fund or the already devastated local government funding settlements?
It may be helpful if I provide some context to the situation that many families face In Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.
- 10,389 children live in relative poverty, 19.2% above the national average.
- 9,010 children live in absolute poverty, 17.7% above the national average.
- Unemployment is 6.7%, 3% above the national average.
- Unemployment aged 18-24 is 9.8%, 5.4% above the national average.
I fail to see how giving the richest 10% of households the most under the Government’s measures will benefit those children living in poverty and those struggling to pay their bills this Winter. Trickle-down economics does not work and if it did in any way, my constituents cannot wait for those imaginary residual benefits to reach them.
Therefore, could you clarify if it is the policy of this Government to replace levelling up with trickle down?
Finally, the impact on the economy following last week’s statement has been devastating. Parliament must urgently have the opportunity to hold the Government to account and I would request that you encourage the Prime Minister to recall Parliament to enable urgently required scrutiny of the executive.
Gill Furniss MP