England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance, Public health

Power down to level up: resilient place-shaping for a post-Covid world


This publication is part of our Post-Covid Councils work on the location of power.

Place plays an important role for an increasing number of local councils as a strategic lens and a blueprint for local leadership. Recognition of place is vital for community wellbeing, particularly as disruption and complexity grow in society, politics and the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. But governance in England is experiencing a period of further centralisation which is in danger of smothering local efforts at place leadership.

This paper draws on case studies and analysis to argue that an effective case for refocusing UK governance on place must overcome entrenched orthodoxies about where local capacity lies, the nature of power in the modern state, and how we best measure policy success. It was published thanks to an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded partnership between LGIU and Queen Mary, University of London and contains case studies of innovative approaches to place-shaping in a range of council contexts from:

  • Cornwall
  • Colchester
  • North Ayrshire
  • Kirklees
  • Greater Manchester
  • Kent

Key recommendations in the report include calls for more fiscal devolution, citizen-centred public services, cutting Whitehall red tape, promoting a sustainable local economy and strengthening local public health.