Majority of British public do not have faith in PM’s ‘levelling up’ plans, new poll suggests

More than three-quarters of the British public do not have faith in Boris Johnson’s plans to level up society, research suggests.

Some 59% of people polled by the charity Hope not Hate do not believe the Prime Minister will succeed in levelling up the country, while a further 21% do not know if he will be successful.

This includes 34% of Conservative voters who said they do not expect levelling up to succeed, and 28% being unsure.

The Government has said levelling up is at “the very heart” of its agenda, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak describing it as a “golden thread” running through the Budget he announced last week.

Hope not Hate, which works to challenge far-right hate, carried out research into how some of the communities most at risk of social division have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It commissioned Focaldata to survey 1,512 respondents between July 20 and 21.

The findings suggest more than half (54%) of people feel less hopeful for the future as a result of the pandemic, with 62% concerned the coronavirus outbreak is exposing “great inequality” in British society.

Almost half of respondents (44%) fear they or a relative will lose their job in the next year, with women, graduates and the under-45s more likely to fear unemployment.

Sixty-three per cent said they are worried about the level of racism in society, with 67% sharing concerns about the level of poverty and 71% about the lack of opportunities for young people.

The Government needs to prioritise housing, health and social care and invest in areas outside of big cities if it is to fulfil its pledge, respondents said.

The research also identified 52 local communities where risks of community tensions and far-right activity were most likely to be increased by the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Sixteen of these areas, which include Blackpool, Liverpool, Leicester and Luton, were predicted as being particularly at risk of social divisions.

Each of these areas were hit hard by the pandemic in the short-term, have a lower long-term capacity to recover from economic shocks, and have more hostile than average attitudes towards migration and multiculturalism.

Local community leaders in these areas said they are still feeling the effects of austerity, and are concerned that they needed to rely on charities to overcome some issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

The report reads: “Our research has consistently shown how, during economically tough periods, resentments and frustrations can brew and people look for someone to blame.

“When people have little hope for their own chances in life, it is much harder for them to show openness and compassion for others.

“And it easier for opportunists to exploit real fears with hatred. The post-pandemic landscape therefore poses enormous challenges for community resilience.”

Rosie Carter (pictured), head of policy at Hope not hate, said: “To truly succeed in ‘levelling up’ and to fill the public with confidence in the Government’s ability to create meaningful change, we need to look beyond definitions of ‘levelling up’ which relate purely to economic infrastructure.

“We need the Government to ‘build back resilient’ instead, by investing in integration and by supporting community groups, which strengthen community resilience but have been lost to years of austerity.

“If this is not addressed, any attempts to ‘level up’ will sadly fail.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Levelling up all corners of the UK is at the very heart of this Government’s agenda.

“We are empowering local leaders to seize their own destiny by funding projects that support social cohesion and tackle hate crime, enabling communities to thrive.

“Through the £4.8 billion levelling up fund committed over the course of this Parliament, we’re investing in vital new infrastructure and public services across the UK to boost living standards, create jobs, help communities restore local pride and spread opportunities to all.”

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