A reset for levelling up?
LGIU calls on Government to put councils at the heart of Levelling Up White Paper
The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has today released its latest report, On the level, outlining the key principles that should underpin the Government’s forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper.
Ahead of Michael Gove’s first major speech as the newly appointed Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to the Conservative Party Conference this afternoon, On the level, digests an extensive collection of material on levelling up and looks at the opportunities it offers and risks it poses.
Last month’s reshuffle saw a reset for levelling up with Michael Gove being moved to the renamed Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Gove now has a heavy-hitting ministerial team underneath him, while Andy Haldane will spend six months heading up the Cabinet Office’s Levelling Up Taskforce.
The LGIU has, over the last two years, published a series of briefings and research papers for its members to try and clarify what levelling up will entail, whether it is a coherent policy and how local government can respond. On the level outlines the key principles that should underpin the Government’s forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper, with a focus on the need to work in partnership with local government. These principles include:
Clarity – The White Paper has to clarify what the Government means by levelling up whilst allowing for flexibility for locally-targeted action and scope for local leaders to make it their own.
Partnership – Local leaders have to be given the tools to be able to fully contribute as partners to the levelling up project. Levelling up needs to go hand in hand with a decentralisation of power to local and sub-national governments, based on A New Settlement for Place.
Transparency – There has to be complete transparency – both in relation to the data and information used for making those decisions and the reasons why policy and funding decisions are made.
Scope – New levelling up funding and other funding related to it and local growth strategies, such as the Towns and UK Shared Prosperity Funds, should extend beyond investing in hard infrastructure projects to social infrastructure and to measures that address inequalities in areas such as health and skills, with support for preventative measures such as Early Years programmes and childcare services.
Flexibility – Levelling up has to be, and be seen to be, relevant to local places, reflecting the priorities of and differences between local authorities, their communities and partners.
Accountability – The Levelling Up White Paper needs to set out clear objectives and timescales – at national and disaggregated levels so that progress can be scrutinised and outcomes measured, including developing metrics for place-based wellbeing policy.
An embargoed copy of the full report is available upon request.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGIU said:
“There’s a real opportunity for the Government here. Whether it’s in the title of the department or not, local government exists: there are 398 councils across the UK with more than two million staff, democratically hardwired into every community in the country through more than 20,000 elected councillors. That’s an essential tool that the Government must use. Levelling up can only be achieved by working with councils rather than going around them.
If levelling up is grounded in these core principles, it has the potential to offer real transformation. But it can only be effective if it is delivered in partnership with empowered and empowering councils. If we miss that opportunity, it risks being remembered as an empty political slogan.”
Our latest report digests LGIU’s extensive research and analysis around levelling up and looks at the opportunities it offers and the risks it poses. On the level outlines the key principles that should underpin the forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper: clarity, scope, partnership, transparency, flexibility and accountability.
The LGIU has, over the last two years, published a series of briefings and research papers for our members to try and clarify what levelling up will entail, whether it is a coherent policy and how local government can respond. This bundle brings together our extensive collection of materials around levelling up.
The all-new Local Democracy Research Centre brings together experts from local government and academia to do practical research on some of the key challenges for local democracy around the world. Our research is guided and supported by LGIU’s global members. Through the Local Democracy Research Centre, we are developing a broad, international programme that engages universities and local authorities to develop new ideas and approaches for governance, municipalism and citizen participation. The projects are rooted in practice but draw on insights and ideas from academia.
LGIU (Local Government Information Unit) was established in 1983 as an independent, not-for-profit local authority membership organisation and think tank. Now as LGIU England & Wales, LGIU Scotland, LGIU Ireland and LGIU Australia we work for and with local authorities around the world, helping them to serve their citizens more effectively. Our members are councils and other organisations with an interest in local government.
We provide the unrivalled intelligence and support that officers and councillors need every day. We work with our members and other stakeholders to drive forward the ideas and solutions needed to provide sustainable public services in the future. And, we deliver the commentary that makes the value of local government clear to all.