Michael Gove has been accused of “rehashing” a five-year-old government document for the government’s landmark levelling-up announcement.
Levelling up secretary Gove unveiled the new agenda in the House of Commons on Wednesday, with a plan made up of 12 national “missions” covering areas including economy, housing, education, transport and culture with targets for dramatic improvements by 2030.
After details were first leaked overnight, Labour highlighted that many of the ‘missions’ are lifted from Theresa May’s "Industrial Strategy" – which was launched in 2017 and recently scrapped.
Labour MP Darren Jones tweeted an archived link to the Industrial Strategy, writing alongside: “This is actually ridiculous. I've just quickly checked the Levelling Up missions against the (recently scrapped) Industrial Strategy missions and they're all the same!”
Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy criticised the Levelling Up White Paper as being a “series of rehashed announcements, some of which are so old they were actually originally made by Gordon Brown when he was the Labour prime minister in 2008”.
Gove told MPs his plan would “make opportunity more equal and to shift wealth and power decisively towards working people and their families”.
“We need to allow overlooked and undervalued communities to take back control of their destiny,” he said.
“Because we know that, while talent is spread equally across the United Kingdom, opportunity is not.”
Funding for schemes announced in the plan comes from allocations previously set out in the spending review, rather than new pots of cash.
Watch: Labour brands Levelling Up White Paper as 'smoke and mirrors'
Responding to Gove's announcement in the Commons, Nandy said the plan amounted to “ministers scurrying around Whitehall shuffling the deckchairs, cobbling together a shopping list of recycled policies and fiddling the figures”.
She said: “Only two thirds of children leave primary school with the basic skills to get on.
“Forgive me if I’m missed something but wasn’t he the education secretary for four years?”
Meanwhile Tory former minister Steve Baker hit out at the “socialist” plans.
“We should be using our 80-seat majority to implement Conservative policies, not policies that wouldn’t look out of place in Labour’s manifesto,” he said.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Levelling Up announcement was a “set of repackaged, rehashed and recycled announcements”.
The promise to “level up” forgotten and deprived communities was a key theme of Boris Johnson’s 2019 general election campaign which saw the Tories make huge gains in Labour’s previously impregnable “red wall” heartlands.
Watch: Gove: Government to end illiteracy and innumeracy by 2030