Commenting on the release of the government’s Levelling up White Paper plans, Phil Woolley, Head of Public Sector Consulting, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:
“The publication of today’s White Paper plans is a welcome first step and it is reassuring to see the government recognise the need for systemic changes in order to deliver its central aim of Levelling up.
“The ‘12 missions’ can be seen as an attempt to consolidate existing elements of government activity behind a singular banner and now provides a clearer picture of the levelling up opportunity.
“Following a decade of successful regional devolution and mayors, the White Paper marks the next stage of the country’s devolution journey. With government now offering a clear framework of devolved powers and accountability, local leaders will need to embrace the opportunity and collaborate across the public and private sector to ensure they negotiate and then deliver the best deal for their communities.
“Grant Thornton’s Levelling Up Index shows that the economies of the 10 worst performing local authorities in England are on average over five times smaller than their best performing counterparts - highlighting the scale of the challenge ahead.
“To level up, these areas would need to grow their economies by £12billion, increase employment rates by 6 percentage points, create 1,700 new businesses a year and increase average weekly pay by £200.
“It is too early to determine whether the measures announced today will be sufficient, but it is a start. Success will ultimately depend on the ability and willingness of local and national government to translate these new frameworks into meaningful change in people’s lives.
“The Spending Review offers the next opportunity for government to show its commitment by realigning departmental objectives behind these new goals.”