The government was due to release their white paper on devolution and recovery this year, outlining the government’s plans for local economies. However, it’s once again been delayed so it’s never been more important to make the case for prioritising levelling-up the UK and how this needs to happen.
To make this case, Demos and four universities (Birmingham, Cardiff, Surrey and Warwick) are about to publish Achieving Levelling-up: The Processes and Structures Needed. Our report concludes that levelling up will be difficult but possible and that the existing system for managing local economic policy from the centre is dysfunctional: in the absence of change, there is zero chance of reversing the long-term trend towards greater regional inequality.
Our research also suggests the nature of the change required: replacing funding competitions with a system in which targets for productivity, inclusivity and sustainability are set by the relevant local authorities, following negotiations with Whitehall.
This requires Whitehall to up its game and provide leadership rather than simply management. It also requires strengthening local authorities’ capabilities, as well as measures to engage the public more actively and create more direct accountability for this area of policy.
To launch our report we’re holding an online panel discussion with experts in this area.
Our panel includes:
- Professor Nigel Gilbert – Sociology Professor, University of Surrey (Chair)
- Lord O’Neill – former chairman of Goldman Sachs and government minister
- Professor Donna Hall CBE – Chair of the New Local Government Network and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust
- Jamie Driscoll – mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority
- Charles Seaford – Senior Fellow, Demos