DLUHC to be return to former name MHCLG as Angela Rayner describes phrase as a “gimmick”

The new Labour government is removing the words ‘levelling up’ from departmental and ministerial titles after deputy prime minister Angela Rayner described the phrase coined by Boris Johnson as a “sham”.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, rebranded by former prime minister Johnson in 2021, will return to its former name of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

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Deputy prime minister and communities secretary Angela Rayner made the announcement to departmental staff yesterday

Rayner, who is also housing and communities secretary, announced the change in a speech to department staff yesterday, saying Labour would “go back to basics”.

“No more government by gimmick. No more stunts and spin. Our department should do what it says on the tin,” she said.

The phrase ‘levelling up’ was a key part of Johnson’s 2019 election campaign in which he promised to address regional inequality in the UK, partly by funding regeneration projects in deprived parts of the country.

But Rayner said that while the Conservatives had been right about the problem they did not have the right solutions.

“Our country is too unequal and it holds us all back,” she added. “This government has a mission to tackle that. A mission not just to restore growth, but provide a better standard of life for all our citizens across all of our country. 

“We are clear that is the mission not just of this department, but of our whole government.”

She said the newly renamed department would “deliver change for our regions left behind by the sham of levelling up, held back by a government unwilling to match their ambition”.

The return of ‘local government’ to the name of the department will also represent a commitment to provide long-term funding settlements to local leaders, she said.

Several councils have declared bankruptcy over the past year, including Birmingham and Nottingham.

The last government’s Levelling Up Fund was set up to dispense nearly £5bn to regeneration projects in less affluent communities, with the North West of England receiving the largest share.

It received criticism due to the funds being concentrated in Conservative-voting areas and from West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who called for the money to be allocated by local authorities instead of central government.