Bundle: levelling up
This bundle 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. This includes our on-the-day reaction to release of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and an LGIU exclusive report titled, On the Level, which set out our six principles for Levelling Up that we will be marking against.
Levelling Up the United Kingdom: White Paper analysis
Our new 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. Our detailed member briefing on the back of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will be available shortly.
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.
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:
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.
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 the briefing.
What does Bristol’s referendum result mean for the future of levelling up?
Relatively little attention has been paid to Bristol voting to scrap their elected mayor. Nonetheless, this is a significant result, writes Jonathan Carr-West here.
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.
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.
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 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