“It will mean nothing unless everyone can benefit”
County Cllr Julie Gibson, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Growth has called on the Government to ensure the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill provides real solutions to tackle poverty and inequality. The Bill, currently going through the committee stage of parliament is set to become law later in the year and has ambitious aims to reduce the imbalances, primarily economic, between areas and social groups across the United Kingdom.
Cllr Gibson said: “I welcome any measures to invest and regenerate our communities however, the real test of any legislation will be the difference it makes to the economic well-being of the residents in those communities. Recent figures show that the average gross weekly pay in West Lancashire is £566.60 (figs Nomis website) and we are still experiencing a cost-of-living crisis that has seen many people struggling to make ends meet. As we approach the Summer, we are still seeing household budgets being squeezed with those on some of the lowest incomes finding it exceedingly difficult to manage the basics.
Cllr Gibson said: “Real, true levelling up should contain a commitment to lifting people out of poverty and raising aspiration. It is an agenda that often forgets the real purpose of what levelling up should be, an example of which would be a commitment to Skelmersdale Train Station. Investment in this through the levelling up agenda would provide long term sustainable economic regeneration providing employment opportunities by connecting Skelmersdale with Liverpool and Manchester.
Cllr Gibson said: “What we need to see from the levelling up agenda is trust. An active, participating government that treats our communities and those who serve them as partners, working together to change the system and ease the pressure. If we are to come through the cost-of-living crisis we need the levelling up agenda to deliver economic growth in our communities that everyone can be a part of.”