Bundle: levelling up

The recent UK Government reshuffle was pronounced by the media as a reflection of the Prime Minister’s determination to make ‘levelling up’ happen and to make sure it succeeds – by moving the responsibility for the levelling up agenda to the newly retitled, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to Michael Gove’s remit as the new Secretary of State.

Levelling up has been the key theme of the UK Government since the general election, but there are still fundamental questions about what levelling up means. Is it about regional disparities or does it aim to address inequalities within regions? Is it just about the economy? – If so, is it just about infrastructure projects or does it address broader wellbeing outcomes? How will it be measured and what will success look like?

And most importantly, from LGIU’s perspective and that of our members, what will be the role of local government and of local communities in planning and delivering levelling up?

As part of the debate so far, the LGIU has 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.

On the level: Six principles to underpin the forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper

Our latest report digests LGIU’s extensive research and analysis around levelling up and looks at the opportunities it offers and 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.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Our latest research

‘On the level: Six principles to underpin the forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper’ tries to pin down the concept of levelling up – is levelling up focused on reducing the disparities in productivity between regions (usually seen as between London and the South-East and the rest) or between particular cities and ‘struggling towns’ around them? And will it recognise the economic inequalities within regions and well as between them?

This paper also highlights many of the key issues and concerns surrounding levelling up so far, including:

  • Lack of transparency;
  • The nature of the funding programmes;
  • The scope of levelling up and its relationship to devolution;
  • Decentralisation and sub-national government.

A white paper is due for publication this Autumn. As a result, we are proposing a series of principles, based firmly on a localist agenda, which we believe should underpin the white paper. This is LGIU’s offer of a contribution to what we hope can be a productive dialogue between the government and local councils about how they can deliver levelling up together.

Read the full paper.

Levelling up – what does it really mean?

What exactly does levelling up mean? And what are the key questions surrounding it? We look here at definitions, how it is being funded, and what commentators say it should include to be effective. Read our briefing here. And check out our related resources below:

Image by Lynn Greyling from Pixabay

The crucial role of devolution and local government

The LGIU has consistently argued that levelling up will fail if it is not underpinned by the genuine involvement of local government in its development and delivery. Councils need to be given the tools to implement levelling up locally. This briefings below discuss what that involvement might look like:

A New Settlement: place and wellbeing in local government


Context, budgets and bid funding

LGIU briefings have analysed the local economy and industrial strategy policy context in which levelling up fits. Levelling up featured in the last budget and in the Plan for Growth published alongside it – should local government (and the devolved governments) be worried about what central government has said so far about how levelling up will be funded and whether the UK government will take a centralist approach to its implementation? Here are some briefings which address the subject:

Budget March 2021 and placemaking – towards ever greater centralisation?

The Towns Fund – what’s wrong with the government’s approach to levelling up?

It’s not just the economy

Levelling up so far has been very focused on reducing gaps in productivity and on improving physical capital. This briefing below argues that there needs to be an equal emphasis on enhancing social capital by investing in skills and opportunities for training, community projects and health and wellbeing. Read on here:

Social infrastructure and levelling up – building resilient communities

Concerns from parliament, local government, key organisations

It was clear from reading reports from select committees that MPs, MSPs and local government share concerns about how levelling up has been delivered so far – including the lack of clarity over its scope, over the transparency of funding decisions, and its remit being too focused on big infrastructure problems. LGIU’s levelling up content considers the nature of these concerns and asks whether the government is learning any lessons from the past? Read more on this topic area in the following briefings:

BEIS Committee Report: post-pandemic economic growth and levelling up

Opportunities for local government

UK local authorities are facing huge challenges in progressing levelling up, devolution and local economic development. How can local authorities make the most of any opportunities levelling up may offer? This briefing below offers some ideas: