WARRINGTON South MP Andy Carter has joined a group of 30 Conservative MPs to help spearhead the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

The Levelling Up Taskforce represents seats across the country and will champion ideas to boost Britain’s lagging areas, including some deprived parts of the north west.

The taskforce is working with think-tank Onward, which has today produced a report titled ‘Measuring up for levelling up’.

It looks at how the Government can best measure progress on levelling up and examines how the economy has been performing in different parts of the country over recent decades.

Together, they want to develop policies that work to support the young and old and those in urban and rural areas who feel that they have been neglected by Westminster.

The report reveals that, since the mid-1990s, London has pulled ahead of the rest of the country.

Having been the same size as the economy of the north of England as recently as 2004, London’s economy is now a quarter bigger.

Meanwhile, London’s gross value added before the coronavirus crisis was the size of the north plus Edinburgh, Swansea, Belfast, Bristol and Birmingham.

And the report found that opportunity is not evenly spread. In Greater London, over 45 per cent of poorer pupils who were eligible for free school meals progressed to higher education in 2018-19.

Outside London, there were 80 local authorities where richer pupils not on free school meals were less likely than this to go to university

Mr Carter said: “The levelling up agenda has strong support in Warrington and the important thing now is that we make it material for people’s lives as soon as possible, particularly in light of coronavirus pandemic.

“This is what the taskforce is all about and here in Cheshire we already have one of the most productive local economies per person in the entire country, producing 25 per cent of the north west’s total manufacturing output.

“And while we do need to encourage more investment and enterprise, we also need to tackle disparities across the town, in terms of wages, opportunities and access to vital public services like a new hospital.”

But it comes as a poll by Savanta ComRes for ITV News found that 67 per cent of people living in northern England said they are not confident that the Government will deliver on its promise to ‘level up’ the underperforming areas of the economy where they live. This compares to 49 per cent of those surveyed in the Midlands.

The poll was commissioned as part of a special week of coverage on ITV Regional News in the north of England, the Midlands and Wales – called Levelling Up – which is looking at the state of economy, health and education in their communities.