LONDON (Reuters) – Former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane has been appointed to head a UK government task force to tackle regional inequality, the government said on Sunday.

Described as a ‘leveling up’, tackling economic inequality across the country was one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s central commitments when he won the 2019 election with his party’s largest parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher.

Haldane will be permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, a central government department that oversees policy implementation. He joins a six-month secondment from the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

“Andy is uniquely qualified to lead our efforts to raise living standards, expand opportunity, improve our public services and restore people’s sense of pride in their communities,” Johnson said in a statement.

The government announced that it is renaming the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, headed by Michael Gove, to the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities.

Haldane will lead the new Upgrade Task Force, which will report jointly to Johnson and Gove.

“Upgrading the UK is one of the iconic challenges of our time. It has also been a personal passion throughout my professional career,” Haldane said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with colleagues in government, local and national, and with the private and voluntary sectors, to design and build an economy that works for every part of the UK.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Toby Chopra)


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