North East Devolution and Levelling Up

Levelling up places or people, asks think tank – following this website

A leading London think tank is following this website – unknowingly, no doubt – in asking whether the government’s levelling up agenda is about places or people.

‘Is government prioritising the most deprived people or the lowest economic output areas?’ asks the Institute for Government (IfG) on its website dated September 22.

‘Levelling up – is it for places or people?’ asked this site on September 21.

A report published by the IfG identifies three main areas where the government’s objectives remain unclear. As well as the places or people question, it asks what the role of regional cities is in the levelling up agenda and whether levelling up means decentralising power or not.

The report, Levelling Up: What the government means by the phrase, poses five questions that it says the forthcoming White Paper on Levelling Up must answer, the first of which is: how (if at all) do the people-based and place-based elements of the levelling-up agenda interact?

‘The government must be clear about the difference between helping the poorest people in the UK (wherever they may live) and targeting support at particular areas,’ it says.

‘These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, as some areas of levelling up – such as education and skills – might be better suited to a people-based approach rather than a place-based one. But the appropriate mix of policies will be different, and success will be measured in very different terms. It is important to know whether the government expects to be judged on how individuals are faring or how much “left-behind” areas have improved’.

The report also asks what measures the government will be looking at to assess its progress – a question to which this site has already provided its own regionally-based answer.

From what we know so far, says the IfG report, ‘It is clear that levelling up is about more than just improving people’s incomes.

‘Health outcomes, educational opportunities and whether somewhere feels like a nice and safe place to live are all things the government hopes to address. It is also clear that the government is committed to improving infrastructure, from public transport to broadband, to make places more connected.’