Julian signs Northern Tory MPs letter to Prime Minister on regional ‘levelling-up’ and recovery from coronavirus
October 27, 2020
Julian has joined over 50 Conservative MPs in writing to Boris Johnson to emphasise that coronavirus must not allow the government’s commitment to boosting prosperity and investment across Northern England to slip, and requesting a roadmap down the coronavirus tiering system and lockdown measures, to assist local communities and economies.
Having long campaigned for improved transport infrastructure for York and the wider region, and pressed government to focus on equipping school leavers for skilled jobs to support the local economy and boost living standards, Julian lent his support to the letter to encourage Ministers to renew their focus on ‘levelling-up’ prosperity and opportunities across the region, amid the disruption of the virus emergency.
The letter urges the prioritisation and acceleration of projects like the high-speed Manchester -Leeds Northern Powerhouse Rail line, and ultrafast broadband. It also requests the government draw up a Northern Economic Recovery Plan, focusing on fostering economic growth and targeting public investment, to assist rebuilding from the coronavirus shock. Government schemes like furlough and business grants and loans have already been vital to preserving livelihoods and sustaining households across the region in recent months, and the letter asks Ministers to build on this good work by planning for a future of expansion and job creation.
The government has also acted to build up support for businesses affected by tier 2 restrictions on indoor mixing to better match the wage support and £3000 grants available for those forced to close under tier 3, with the Chancellor announcing special tier 2 cash grants and bigger wage support to preserve jobs, the day after Julian tackled Boris Johnson on this at Prime Minister’s Questions last week.
The letter also calls for a clearer route away from restrictions for communities under special coronavirus measures, in order to give hope to residents and businesses, guard against any risk of a disproportionate impact on Northern regions, and build greater support for the government’s approach. Having called on Boris Johnson for a roadmap for York to move down from tier 2 to tier 1 at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions so residents know how they can improve the situation to return to relative normality, Julian thought it was important to sign this letter to reinforce his message.
After signing the letter, Julian said: “Given the impact of coronavirus on York and across Northern England, the government’s manifesto pledges to ‘level-up’ prosperity and opportunities across the country are more vital than ever, and I though it was important to sign this letter encouraging Ministers to renew their commitment and focus in this vital area.
Restrictions are sadly necessary to repress the virus locally, but as the letter suggests, this has to be part of a bigger process, with careful planning for how we revive local economies after coronavirus, once it is safe to return towards normality.
One of the best ways for the region to rebuild after the pandemic is for the government to implement and accelerate its existing ambitious plans for Northern England, and I am sure this letter will push this up the government’s agenda. The huge sums Ministers have allocated to furlough, business grants and now wage support through the new Job Support Scheme have been a lifeline for many households, but we must now think about how we can return to growth and job creation, not just keep the local economy in suspended animation.
In York, we have a pretty good story to tell on government investment recently, and I am glad to have been able to help secure a commitment to dual the A1237 and a 6%+ rise in per-pupil school funding by lobbying Ministers intensively on these points over many months. However, we now have to build on this by enhancing York’s transport links to the North’s big urban centres through projects like the Leeds-Manchester Northern Powerhouse line, and ensuring our city can contribute to, and benefit from, growth in the wider region.
I will continue to press government through this letter, and all other means, to ensure York gets the support it needs to bounce back from these challenging times.”