Do you know what ‘levelling up’ means? One in four have no idea, survey finds

Nearly one in four people have never heard of “levelling up”, even though Boris Johnson has repeatedly used the phrase for two years as part of his domestic reform agenda.

Levelling up was a key part of the Conservatives’ 2019 general election campaign, as Boris Johnson promised to bring greater prosperity to more parts of the country.

The Government has defined it as “boosting living standards, improving public services, enhancing civic pride and strengthening local leadership”.

Levelling up is so important to the Government’s plans that Michael Gove, one of the Cabinet’s most high profile ministers, was made Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in a bid to make the department more prominent.

Mr Gove is due to produce a White Paper on levelling up in the New Year, which will give more detail on the Government’s plans.

But a YouGov survey of 4,882 people found that only 26 per cent of people knew exactly what levelling up meant, with 24 per cent saying they had never heard the term being used.

More than a third of people – 35 per cent – had heard the term but were not completely sure of its meaning, while 15 per cent had heard of levelling up but did not know what it meant.

People’s understanding of levelling up even appears to have declined over the past year, with the share of people who do not know what it means rising by 14 per cent.

Levelling up: Will it make a difference?

The poll, run between November 30 and December 13, also found that three in five people were not following levelling up plans. Just nine per cent were following developments “very closely”.

Half of people surveyed think the current amount of money the Government spends in their local area is too low and that levelling up will make little difference. Only seven per cent think it will lead to more money being spent in their communities.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, told Politico: “It’s no surprise people don’t know what levelling up means. After two years, the Government can’t even agree what it means.

“Ask any place in the country and you hear a common story. We need better jobs, transport and opportunities. 

"Unless the levelling up White Paper delivers that, it’s just another meaningless slogan from a government that is fresh out of ideas.”

A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Our ambitious plans for levelling up will transform the economic geography of every corner of the UK, and our White Paper will set out how we will achieve this.” 

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