Collection: levelling up


This collection below brings together our extensive collection of materials around levelling up. We will continue to provide additional support and analysis to our members in response to the latest developments in this space.

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.


Our latest research


‘On the level: Six principles to underpin Levelling Up’ 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.

We have proposed 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 the United Kingdom: White Paper analysis

Levelling up the UK white paper analysis

This briefing deals with the four chapters of the Levelling Up White Paper which profile socio-economic disparities between areas in the UK; sets out a plan for re-configuring government; outline the policy programme; and, indicates what further steps are likely to be taken in the near future.

Levelling Up White Paper 2022 – what it means for local growth

This briefing builds on LGIU’s recent and detailed briefing, Levelling up the United Kingdom: White Paper analysis. It provides an overview of relevant accompanying documents and considers what the White Paper might mean in practice for councils and local growth partners during 2022 and beyond. Read here.

The day of reckoning in the land of local government is here at last

The day of reckoning in the land of local government is here at last. For months we have been promised the Levelling Up White Paper, but delay after delay kept us in anticipation, until now. Read our analysis here.

Our response to the Levelling Up White Paper

Our initial thoughts and analysis on the back of the long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper from LGIU’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Carr-West.

He says, “If we want places around the country to level up and stay levelled up, we need to build genuine capacity. That can’t be done if local areas are kept dependent on Whitehall for funding and approval, going to them cap in hand.” Read more here.

The latest in levelling up from LGIU

IFS Deaton inequality review: levelling up economics

This briefing covers the ‘Levelling-up economics’ paper, published in February 2023, as part of the IFS Deaton inequality review. The paper describes how interregional productivity inequalities pose some of the greatest challenges to the UK’s economy, society and governance systems. Read here.

Local government finance settlement 2023-24 and levelling up allocations

This briefing looks at the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2023-24 and the Levelling Up allocations that were recently announced. It assesses the likely impact of the two updates on English councils. Read here.

LGIU response: latest levelling up funding allocation

LGIU response to the Government’s latest levelling up funding allocation Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGIU, said: “People will debate whether these allocations are right or fair but the real problem here is that this is a crazy way to fund local government. “With competitive bids and the Government picking winners – there will always be losers.” Read here.

Das ist interessant! Lessons from Germany on levelling up

Germany is often held up as an example of a successful regional policy. This briefing focuses on reports from Compass and the Fabian Societ which argue that when faced with similar challenges to the UK, Germany’s decentralised government structures and long-term, collaborative approach have been more effective in ‘levelling up’ and reducing regional disparities. Read here.

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. And check out our related resources below:

Image by Lynn Greyling from Pixabay

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.

The key pillars of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

This briefing deals with the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which is intended to enact some of the key pillars of the levelling up agenda. Most of the bill applies to England and Wales only, but there are some important UK-wide exceptions, which are set out in the briefing. Read here.

Levelling up: what England thinks – report from UK in a Changing Europe and KCL Policy Institute

In the debate about levelling up the UK, the voices of ordinary people have been largely absent. New research asked people what they think about their communities; what policies would be most effective; how they would like those policies to be delivered; and, who they trust to deliver them. Read here.

LGIU response: Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

This is our on-the-day press release to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill from LGIU’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Carr-West. Read here.

Movers and stayers: localising power to level up towns – Demos report

A key principle of the UK levelling up policy is that people should be able to “stay local, go far”. This report by Demos examines the differing motivations of those leaving ex-industrial areas and struggling coastal towns versus those who stay and argues for a fresh focus on the ‘stayers’. Read the briefing.

What is the role of subjective wellbeing in levelling up? Social Market Foundation research

Improving and equalising wellbeing is one of the fundamental missions of the UK Government’s levelling up agenda, but new research from the Social Market Foundation finds many economically prosperous places have low levels of wellbeing, whilst economically challenged places report higher wellbeing. This paradox has implications for policy making. Read the briefing.

Social infrastructure – rapid evidence review of community initiatives

There is growing interest amongst politicians and policymakers in the potential role of social/community infrastructure in promoting thriving communities. Policies introduced across several UK nations aim to grow social infrastructure. This report examines the evidence base on ‘what works’ with regard to social infrastructure and community initiatives. Read the briefing.

Can lifting up local be centrally led? Global lessons

The central/local government balance of fiscal and decision-making powers can be difficult to get right. Overly centralised governance can lead to oversimplified policy, missing opportunities to use local knowledge for tailored, effectively targeted interventions with long term impact. Go too far the other way, however, and there is a risk of reinforcing inequalities through differences in funding and skills/capacity between areas (postcode lotteries). We explore global lessons on reducing geographic disparities through this blog and newsletter.

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: