Convention of the North 2023: Mayors call for levelling up to become ‘hardwired’ into UK law

The fourth annual Convention of the North is underway in Manchester.

The fourth annual Convention of the North is taking place in Manchester today, with political, business and community leaders from across the North of England joining together to discuss key social, economic and environmental issues.

Mayors from across the region, including Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, will discuss the ambition of the North, with a key issue being levelling up.

Mayors across the North of England are calling for levelling up to become “hardwired” into UK law - guaranteeing equivalent funding and living standards across all regions and closing the North/South divide. Steve Rotheram says, “the UK is the most regionally unbalanced advanced economy.”

The idea is inspired by Germany, where the constitution requires equality between all its states and an annual process of funding redistribution, and Carsten Schneider, Minister for East Germany and Equivalent Living Conditions, is discussing this at the conference today. Former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson first referenced the Germany economy in 2021, when promoting his ideas for levelling up.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, wrote in the Guardian today: “When you visit Germany, you can see and feel the success of this policy wherever you go in the high standards of transport infrastructure and the public realm.”

He added: “If all areas were to move over time to the same model, with a commitment to equal living standards hardwired into UK law, we would at last have an architecture to support German-style levelling up. The north would need its own version of the Barnett formula applied to this to close gaps in living standards with the rest.”

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, will dicuss Government ambitions for the North this afternoon, and Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, will discuss her vision for the North.

Other topics will include devolution and businesses in the North.