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Will Tanner: Everyone knows the moral case for levelling up. But it makes economic sense too.

Conservative Home

Director Will Tanner wrote for Conservative Home about why levelling up makes economic sense, not just moral sense. He writes:

“The political argument for levelling up is straightforward. The Conservatives assembled an electoral coalition in 2019 that is both more likely to live in poorer places and more working class than even the Labour Party. Those votes, in the Prime Minister’s words, were “lent”. They need to be repaid. If the Conservatives want to retain their majority, it is politically essential that levelling up delivers.

The moral case is simple. The last few decades have been good for some places and people, and very bad for others. The gap between the UK’s richest and poorest regions has grown. Returns to graduate labour have increased and returns to vocations have diminished. The social fabric of coastal and industrial towns, particularly, has deteriorated. Civic pride has been squandered.

But the economic case is less intuitive. Economic orthodoxy would say that the best thing governments can do for growth is to get out of the way. To neoclassical economists, levelling up is the economic equivalent of pushing water uphill: eye-wateringly expensive and ultimately futile.

This conventional wisdom is seductive to centre right thinkers given it prioritises market forces and downplays the role of the state. But it is also a narrow view of how economies work in practice, and short-sighted about the damage regional disparities can do to growth. Here are five reasons why levelling up is not just morally and politically sensible, but economically the right thing to do too.”

You can read the full article here.

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