Lisa Nandy MPShadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, Lisa Nandy, writes exclusively for the Chamber Journal.
Britain is in crisis. Families all across our country are facing falling wages, soaring energy bills, rising prices and crumbling public services.
We are staring down the barrel of the hardest winter that most people can imagine.
There is an immediate cause to some of this crisis: a reckless mini-Budget that crashed the economy and sent mortgage rates rocketing.
Twelve years in the making
But the truth is that this is a crisis twelve years in the making, with roots that stretch back decades.
The foundations of a decent, secure life have been slowly eroded. We have an economy that we work hard for every day – but it is one that doesn’t work for us. The contributions of most people and most places have been written out and written off.
In towns across the country, too many young people have to get out to get on, taking with them the spending power that once sustained our high streets, banks, buses and post offices. People are left to grow old hundreds of miles from their children and grandchildren.
For too long, this has been seen as a regional problem. But it’s not. It’s a national problem. More than that, it’s at the heart of our national crisis.
We are one of the most centralised countries in the developed world – trying to power a modern economy using just a handful of people, in a handful of sectors, in one small corner of the country.
Ambitious communities around this country are crying out for the backing to do what they know will work for them. But we have a government that isn’t interested.
Levelling up growth
Growth is our only way out of this malaise and the only route to growth is to invest in the greatest asset we have at our disposal – people – to back all people and all places and get Britain firing on all cylinders.
That is why the next Labour Government will do things differently. We will tilt the balance of power back in favour of people with skin in the game.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as Wigan’s MP, it’s that people with a stake in the outcome will always try harder, think more creatively and do more – because it matters so much.
That’s why we will end the ‘Hunger Games-style’ grants system, where local areas have to go cap-in-hand to Whitehall, competing for small pots of money that come with strings attached.
We believe in governance arrangements that reflect local needs and the realities of geography, identity and economics. Our offer will be: come to us and tell us what powers you need.
Whether it’s a hotel bed tax in Birmingham or Manchester, skills in Stoke or buses in Grimsby, we will be there to listen.
There must always be accountability and transparency, but our doors and minds will be open, and we will equip you with the powers that are right for your area. We wish to connect people to jobs and opportunities and apprenticeships, and invest in the skills of our people, so we’re not just moving jobs to Darlington or Leeds but creating that pipeline for young people, in those places, to get them.
We want this so that our communities no longer live or die at the whim of a Tory leader who promises to level up one day and then openly admits to moving money out of deprived areas the next.
We will give local communities the powers and means to take ownership of vital local assets when they come up for sale or fall into disrepair – the pubs, high street shops and football clubs that make up the social fabric of a place. These assets will generate revenue that can be kept in the local community, marking the first step towards real financial independence for our towns, villages and cities.
Lisa Nandy’s plan
Through our Green Prosperity Plan, we will also create the clean energy jobs of the future. There are a million jobs on the road to net zero and we will invest £28 billion a year to bring them to Britain.
While Michael Gove’s Levelling Up White Paper talks about Jericho and Ancient Rome, we, in Labour, find our inspiration closer to home.
The last Labour Government created Yorkshire Forward, which recognised the legacy of skills in Rotherham and invested in advanced manufacturing. It saw the potential for wind energy in Grimsby and now, we see young people powering the world from the Grimsby docks. This is the model on which we will build.
This will only work if we all come together, using the power, knowledge and ambition of every community in our country to write a new chapter in our national story.
Only by putting people in charge will we defeat climate change, usher in a new era of national regeneration, restore trust in our political institutions and rebuild bridges across our divided nation.
We can rise to meet the challenge of our age and rebuild Britain.
And we will do it the only way that counts – together.
This post is an exclusive article for our December Journal. The journal includes more exclusives including the Prime Minister’s plan for Levelling Up. Click below to view a free digital copy: