The MP – who is chair of parliament’s business committee – said eight of the twelve “missions” set out in the levelling up plan were the same as pledges made in the 2017 industrial strategy.
“This is actually ridiculous,” he said.
“The only thing that is new (other than the majority of kids being able to read, write and add up, and reducing crime) is….drum roll…being proud about where we live. Brilliant.”
Referring to the lack of new funding outlined in the white paper, Jones added: “The irony of the government re-introducing the scrapped industrial strategy is that the chancellor hated it so much he stole it from the business department during the budget and buried it. Maybe that’s why he’s refusing to pay for levelling up?”
In the 12-point plan, the government promises to provide a retention fund to schools in disadvantaged areas to help keep and develop teachers who work in subjects where attainment levels are poor.
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But in the industrial strategy, the then-government set out plans for a £42m “teacher development premium”, covering £1,000 in professional development costs for teachers working in areas which have “fallen behind”.
The industrial strategy was abandoned last year in favour of the government’s plan for growth, grouped under pandemic promises to “build back better”.
Other near-identical ideas to those currently known in the levelling up white paper include improving local transport connectivity and boosting devolution deals with UK cities.
Ministers also pledged in 2017 to deliver “full-fibre broadband and 5G connectivity” to up to five million homes by 2025. Now, they are promising “gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population”.
In 2019, Boris Johnson said May’s broadband plans were unambitious and should only take five years.
Labour’s shadow secretary for levelling up Lisa Nandy also flagged the similarities and pointed out some of the proposals date back even further.
She tweeted: “Some of these announcements were actually first announced by Gordon Brown. Even Theresa May’s industrial strategy has been rebranded as levelling up in Gove’s plan. Britain deserves better than reheated ideas. It needs new leadership.”