Whatever the result of ongoing political change, the core aims of the Levelling up agenda remain critical to the success of the UK.

These core aims include:

  • boosting productivity, pay, jobs and living standards
  • spreading opportunities and improving public services
  • restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging
  • empowering local leaders and communities

Given the number of priorities and available interventions, how can agreement be reached on what matters where and how we focus our activity to deliver meaningful change?

Eight months on from the release of the much-anticipated White Paper we set out to find the answer.

Building on our work with stakeholders at all levels of the process, from town centres to Whitehall, we explored whether there is broad agreement on priorities, how that may impact interventions and the lessons learned so far.

Balancing opinions and data

As the White Paper states, levelling up “is a programme of change that requires a fundamental shift in how central and local government, the private sector and civil society operate”. However, if this is to happen and be effective in stimulating and delivering change, then it must be a shared priority.

There has to be agreement between government and the businesses and communities they serve on what to invest time and money into.

To support that process, we looked at how the views of these stakeholders (businesses, communities and government) align, or not, across the country.

This analysis provides layered views, offering insight to policy makers and politicians at both a national and a local level.

What does this mean for future decision making?

We have set out the practical implications for leaders in both central and local government.

Lessons for Central Government

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    • Simplify and streamline funding processes  
      The whitepaper focuses on creating a robust data driven framework to support the delivery of levelling up. This work will be critical in measuring progress; however, investment decisions cannot be solely data driven. There must be scope for including local perceptions and priorities, allowing for a balance between funding allocations that are formula driven and those that are competitive based on detailed applications and business cases. The focus should be on simplifying the funding application process; removing the need for multiple applications for multiple funding pots would be a good first step.
    • Facilitate and support cross-departmental working
      Issues of crime, health, and wellbeing – to name just three – require the input and investment from multiple departments, bringing additional complexity. This is made worse by situations where the investing department may not be the benefiting department. This requires a different approach nationally with a movement away from traditional departmental silos.

Lessons for Local Government

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    • Ensure effective engagement
      Our analysis shows how views and perspectives can vary across geographies. It is critical that places have the means to understand local priorities and the responses required.
    • Provide local leadership
      Priorities can vary and even when there is alignment between businesses and communities this doesn’t guarantee agreement on the best course of action. Progress will require difficult decisions to be made, relying on strong and bold local leadership.
    • Build a consistent basis for prioritising projects
      It is difficult to make tough choices without being able to effectively assess and prioritise projects. To be effective leaders must consider multiple factors such as local and national priorities, specific local issues and funding availability. As far as possible they need to create frameworks that provide a consistent basis for assessment.
    • Facilitate partnership working
      Addressing local issues and priorities will require a partnership approach with local government working across agencies and sectors. For some this will be about maximising the benefits of the anchor organisations; for others it will be about mobilising the voluntary sector or coordinating local authorities. 



"No matter the political direction, addressing regional inequality and delivering growth remain national priorities. Progress has already been made and it is clear that stakeholders at all levels are ready for more"

Phillip Wooley, Partner, Public Sector Consulting

How we're helping level up:

Levelling up: on the ground in Norfolk

In rural Norfolk, connectivity is key for levelling up. Priorities include roads, public transport and broadband.

How are Norfolk levelling up? Levelling up: on the ground in Norfolk

Levelling up: on the ground in Stoke

Stoke-on-Trent has clearly defined priorities for levelling up, including development, transport, and infrastructure.

How are Stoke levelling up? Levelling up: on the ground in Stoke

Improving energy efficiency in Glasgow homes

Building a business case for retrofitting 8000 homes in the Glasgow City Region.

Read more Improving energy efficiency in Glasgow homes

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill sets out the legal framework to support the government’s levelling-up agenda, which is looking to reduce economic, social, and environmental disparities between and within different parts of the UK.

Read more The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

    What is the political view?

    In partnership with the Institute for Government we ran events at the Labour and Conservative party conferences, to understand each party’s vision for levelling up.

    Labour and Conservative party conference - Shaping policies ahead of the upcoming general election.

    Central and devolved government

    What does it take to deliver successful change?

    You may be tasked with devolution, improving health and social care outcomes, or delivering major programmes. It all requires the right approach.

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