Levelling-up Agenda

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 28th June 2021.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

What steps her Department is taking to help implement the Government's levelling-up agenda.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Levelling up is the Prime Minister’s key priority, making sure that people right across this country have the opportunity to thrive. The way that the Department does that is to work with other Departments, particularly thinking about skills and people going into in-work progression, as well as the use of levers, such things as the flexible support fund, that are aimed at removing barriers for people to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

You will know, Mr Speaker, and the Secretary of State should know that Huddersfield is a prosperous, highly skilled area of our country—yes, in Yorkshire and the north of England. Just like our next-door neighbour, Batley and Spen, we are waiting for the promises and the slogans to turn into leadership and change. It is not good enough to talk about a northern powerhouse that never arrives or levelling up that is never delivered. When will we see the high rates of unemployment in our part of West Yorkshire and the high levels of people on social benefits reduced? Bring back prosperity—let’s have some leadership on this, I beg you.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I share the hon. Gentleman’s ambition and am very confident that Ryan Stephenson will make an excellent MP in the future to bring that to Batley and Spen. It is important to recognise the wider issues that the hon. Gentleman and his area face. I am sure that we will continue to work with Tracy Brabin following her election as Mayor to ensure we get the skills relevant to those areas, but it will take local leadership as well as the leadership that we offer from the centre.