Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison is inviting people to enter a competition giving their policy ideas to boost economic growth in "left behind" regions of the UK.

Speaking about the Government's levelling up agenda, Ms Davison urged people to enter the 2021 Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize, run by the Institute of Economic Affairs and carrying a top prize of £50,000.

She said: “It seeks practical, politically-achievable solutions to the biggest policy challenges facing the country.

“This year’s question, which I helped develop, is: In the current severe economic climate, what pro-market, pro-enterprise policy would be the best way of supercharging growth, employment and living standards in ‘left behind’ Britain?”

“Whatever language is used to describe the divide between the prosperous enclave in the South-East and the rest of the country, the meaning is the same – there are parts of the UK that feel left behind, suffering from under-investment and high unemployment, where educated young people leave for university and well-paid jobs – never to return to the places where they grew up.

“This really matters. Not just to my constituents in Bishop Auckland and the rest of my Blue Wall colleagues, but to everyone in the UK – regardless of how affluent the area they represent might be.

“The United Kingdom performs at its best when everyone is on even-footing and, people are given equal opportunity to access decent jobs, safe and secure housing, and a good education.

“As the Prime Minister wrote in his introduction to the Conservative Party manifesto in 2019 “talent and genius are uniformly distributed throughout the country. Opportunity is not. Now is the time to close that gap – not just because it makes such obvious economic sense, but for the sake of simple social justice.”

This was written before a pandemic swept across the globe and changed life as we know it, she added.

"The Government is working hard in Whitehall to develop policies that will help supercharge growth across the country, but politicians and civil servants are not the only ones with ideas.

"We need to tap into the well of knowledge and innovation – often borne out of first-hand experience – that exists across the country, not just turn to Westminster to solve our problems for us. I find it really exciting to think we might find the best methods for improving the lives and livelihoods of left-behind Britain by hearing from an experienced cabbie, or a butcher working in their village shop, or an entrepreneur on the road to start-up success."

Ms Davison said she had backed a move to shift thousands of civil service jobs from the capital to bases across the region.

She added: "Such a move would deliver a massive economic boost to the region but it would go further, helping decision makers really understand the challenges faced by those living outside London, without the same levels of public investment to fall back on."

"I hope the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize will jumpstart the same conversation, giving people across the country a chance to get their voices heard on the policies they think will help most.

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