Teed up for success? What the Tees Valley tells us about levelling up


Levelling up is an ambitious, long-term agenda. It was a crucial policy of the Johnson-era, and helped the Conservatives win a landslide victory in the 2019 general election. However, it’s safe to say that much has changed since then.

We wanted to look beyond the rhetoric and find out how the levelling up agenda is really doing, by talking to the people it was designed to help. Tees Valley is arguably the poster child for levelling up, with the mayor Ben Houchen its figurehead. We went to Tees Valley and spoke to people who live there to find out exactly what they think of levelling up, whether they think progress has been made and what they think of politics more broadly.

Our focus groups revealed a tension between longterm optimism and shorter-term worries. Among those familiar with the levelling up agenda, there was a good deal of hope for the prosperity it could bring in the future. However, most of the people we spoke to felt that they were yet to see the benefits. Instead, they were focused on the immediate challenges posed by the cost of living crisis.

Read the full report here.