The Levelling Up White Paper presents an opportunity to reset the relationship between central and local government and put councils at the heart of delivering the Government’s ambitious programme to improve opportunities and outcomes in all parts of the country.
For many people the COVID-19 pandemic brought home the importance of their local area and the value of high-quality local services. As leaders of place councils recognise this and, throughout this period, have delivered at speed, working in partnership with national government to support communities.
At the same time local leaders have been concerned that particular groups and communities have been disproportionately affected by the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and will require more help to recover, with some individuals needing support where they did not prior to COVID-19. For others, the issues they faced pre-pandemic, such as access to fast broadband or housing that is right for them and their families, have been amplified.
These inequalities exemplify the challenges councils believe that the Government must address through levelling up. Together we must raise living standards, reduce health inequalities, spread opportunity, improve our public services, and restore people’s sense of pride in their community. With appropriate resourcing, funding and empowerment, councils are well placed to have a leading role delivering this agenda.
Key priorities for levelling up
Local leaders have shown throughout the pandemic that they are well placed to deliver the best outcomes for local communities. Councillors and councils have the democratic mandate, expertise and local insight to improve the outcomes of their communities.
Improving living standards
As house builders, housing enablers, and landlords; as planners, place-shapers, and agents of growth, transport and infrastructure; as responsible guardians to the vulnerable and the homeless; and as democratically accountable to communities – local government is at the heart of improving people’s living standards
Improving public services
Councils help people to live the lives they want to lead. In many towns, counties and cities across the country, councils are the largest employers, providers and procurers of services - from social care, schools, housing and planning to business support, registrar services and licensing. Council services are used by everyone and make a positive difference to residents’ lives as well as building inclusive local economies.
Restoring local pride
Local councils and their communities know their areas best. For many people local areas matter more now than they ever have. Local government has a key role to play as a leader of place in strengthening community pride and cohesion.
A local approach to levelling up
Levelling up in focus
The concept of ‘levelling up’ appeared in Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister and later featured in the 2019 Conservative party Manifesto. It has since been refined to cover a wide-ranging policy agenda, picking up aspects of public service reform, addressing regional economic disparity, and the role of culture in building civic pride and resilience. In May 2021, the Government announced that it will publish a Levelling Up White paper, superseding the anticipated Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper.