Boris Johnson Fleshes Out Plans to ‘Level Up’ Prosperity in U.K.
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted to refocus attention on his “leveling up” agenda by unveiling plans to modernize Britain’s high streets and moving government officials out of London.
Some 57 districts in England will benefit from an 830 million-pound ($1.2 billion) fund to transform town centers into “vibrant places to live, work and shop,” Johnson’s office said in an emailed statement.
More than 3,000 civil service jobs across the Home Office and Business Department will be relocated to Edinburgh, Belfast and the Midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent by 2025.
Johnson has long promised to “level up” prosperity across the U.K. It’s a pledge that contributed to his Conservative Party winning a big majority in the 2019 election, particularly in the traditional Labour heartlands of northern England, and he cemented those gains in mid-terms this month.
Moving government jobs into Scotland could help him win more support in the region as he continues to resist nationalists’ calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Johnson is eager to focus on the U.K.’s revival after the coronavirus crisis, following concerns in recent days that the highly transmissible India variant could knock his plans to reopen the economy off course.
He told broadcasters Tuesday there was nothing “conclusive” in the current data that would delay plans to lift restrictions as planned on June 21.
The new “leveling up” plans also include a 10 million-pound package to boost teaching in four English districts that have lower than average numbers of pupils in good or outstanding schools.
Another 18 million pounds will aim to help vulnerable young people from the most disadvantaged areas improve in key subjects at school and give older students the confidence and skills to get into work.
“As the country gets back on its feet, the government has renewed its commitment to leveling up and tackling the issues that really matter to people,” Johnson said in an emailed statement.
“Not only will we beat the pandemic and recover from its impact, I am determined to seize the opportunity it presents to create a fairer society, improve lives and build back better once and for all.”
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