The Liberal Democrats have won two key votes in the House of Lords that would put rural and left-behind areas at the heart of government policy.
The amendments, tabled to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill, would require the Government to assess the geographical disparities in the UK, and use this assessment to decide whether enough progress is being made on its levelling-up missions.
They would also require the Government to ensure proper consideration is given to rural areas and the needs of rural communities when making levelling-up policy.
Both Liberal Democrat amendments were passed by the House of Lords, meaning they will go back to the Commons for a final decision.
Responding to the wins Liberal Democrat Lords spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government Kath Pinnock said:
“Huge areas of the country have been consistently neglected and let down by this Conservative Government.
“This is particularly true in rural areas, and also in other parts of the country where there is massive disparity between the most and least well-off areas.
“Issues like employment levels, transport links, poverty,health inequality and access to decent housing affect millions of people in the UK.
“Putting these disparities at the heart of its policy is key if the Government is serious about “levelling-up”.
“We strongly urge MPs to back these Lib Dem amendments when the bill returns to them.”
Notes to Editor:
The text of the amendments passed in the Lords to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill today can be found below.
Clause 1, page 2, line 3, at end insert—
“(2A) A statement of levelling-up missions must include an assessment of geographical
disparities in the United Kingdom, broken down by local authority and by postcode area and council ward.
(2B) An assessment of geographical disparities must consider—
(a) levels of public spending, both capital and revenue,
(b) levels of private sector inward investment,
(c) levels of disposable household income,
(d) levels of employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity,
(e) differences in housing supply and tenure,
(f) levels of educational attainment,
(g) numbers of young people not in education, employment or training,
(h) levels of child poverty,
(i) success of government policies in reducing health inequalities,
(j) the availability and cost of public transport, and
(k) levels of fuel poverty.”
LORD FOSTER OF BATH
After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—
“Rural proofing report
Alongside the first statement of levelling-up missions required by section 1, the Secretary of State must publish a rural proofing report detailing the ways in which the levelling-up missions have regard to their impact on rural areas and will address the needs of rural communities.”