Levelling Up Local Inquiry

The LGA is launching an inquiry into how the Government’s levelling up agenda might better strengthen local communities.

Decorative banner with vertical stripes in various colours

As leaders of people and place, councils have a material interest in the outcomes levelling up communities will bring, and that this ambitious agenda can only be delivered if local leaders are properly engaged in its delivery. The LGA is launching an inquiry into how the Government’s levelling up agenda might better strengthen local communities. The inquiry will look beyond the Levelling Up White Paper to investigate the role of local leadership in shaping a recovery that works for all.   

Independent Steering Group

The independent steering group helps shape the inquiry’s development including its evidence gathering; makes contributions drawing on their own experience and expertise and formulates a set of recommendations based around each of the themes.  

Co chairs

Mayor Marvin Rees 

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Reese headshot

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees was elected in May 2016 and re-elected in May 2021. He is a Yale World Fellow and graduate of Operation Black Vote who has worked and studied in the UK and the US. During his first term, he has overseen the building of almost 7,000 homes, founded a city-owned housing company and embarked on the largest council house building scheme for over 35 years. With an ambition to build a more sustainable, inclusive and fairer city he has developed the One City Plan for Bristol and is leading the city’s response to both the climate and ecological emergencies.

Cllr Kevin Bentley 

Councillor Kevin Bentley


    Steering group members

    David Buck

    David Buck headshot

    David Buck is a senor fellow specialising in public health and inequalities at the Kings Fund. Before joining the Fund, David worked at the Department of Health as deputy director for health inequalities. He managed the Labour government's PSA target on health inequalities and the independent Marmot Review of inequalities in health. While in the Department he worked on many policy areas – including on diabetes, long-term conditions, dental health, waiting times, the pharmaceutical industry, childhood obesity and choice and competition – as an economic and strategy adviser. He has also worked at Guy's Hospital, King’s College London and the Centre for Health Economics in York where his focus was on the economics of public health and behaviours and incentives.

    Professor Francesca Gains 

    Francesca Gains headshot

    Professor Francesca Gains is a Professor of Public Policy and Academic Co-Director of [email protected] at the University of Manchester. Before becoming an academic she worked in local government & the probation service, and has both government funded and Parliamentary research experience. In 2020 she was invited to join the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Women and Girls Equality Panel, and since 2019 has been on the Strategy Board of GM4Women2028.  She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and on the editorial board of the Journal of Public Policy, Local Government Studies and the International Review of Administrative Sciences.  Her research explores the relationship between political management arrangements and policy outcomes. 

    Professor Michael Kenny

    Professor Michael Kenny

    Professor Michael Kenny is a Co-Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. He directs the Institute’s Place and Public Policy Programme. Michael has held positions at: Queen’s University, Belfast; the University of Sheffield, and Queen Mary University of London. He served on the Leverhulme Trust’s Advisory Committee (2010-2018), was co-director of the British Academy’s “Governing England” programme (2015-2018), and is currently a visiting Fellow at the UCL Constitution Unit, a member of an external experts panel convened by the Scottish Parliament to advise on the constitutional implications of Brexit, and a member of the advisory board of the Constitution Society. He also serves on the scientific advisory panel for the ‘Behaviour Change by Design’ project funded by the Wellcome Trust, and the Management Board of the Centre for Sustainable Leadership, is senior advisor to ‘The Science of Global Risk’ project funded by the Templeton Foundation, and is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences.

    Michael's research interests include public policy; governance; territorial politics; British politics and political ideas. Michael is currently involved in research projects exploring: the territorial implications of Brexit (as part of the ESRC-funded ‘Between Two Unions: the constitutional futures of the islands after Brexit’ programme); the policy dilemmas associated with ‘left behind communities’; the politics of expertise in public policy; and the implications of behavioural science for public policy. He is currently writing a book about the remaking of the British state and different potential constitutional futures for the UK.

    Sarah Longlands

    Sarah is the chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. She is an expert in regional and local economic development and argues for economic and social justice and the creation of places which enable people to live good lives. Before joining CLES in 2021, Sarah was director of IPPR North, the dedicated think tank for the North of England. She previously worked for CLES until 2011 and began her career in local government, working in County Durham and North Yorkshire. Sarah has a PhD in Urban Studies from the University of Glasgow.

    Raheel Mohammed

    Raheel Mohammed is the director and founder of Maslaha and named as one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals by the Observer newspaper and Nesta. Commissioned by the British Council, he has researched, written and curated two exhibitions exploring the exchange of ideas across societies that have travelled to 11 countries and 35 cities. Raheel also sits on an advisory board to the Ministry of Justice looking at the disproportionate number of young Muslim men in the criminal justice system following the launch of the Young Review and the Lammy Review. He has been invited to give evidence at a number of Government Select Committees and has written on diverse issues such as countering negative public narratives, how to make cities more inclusive and discrimination within the criminal justice system. A former journalist, he has also been involved in a number of start-ups with a focus on education and the arts.

    Expert advisers
    Neale Coleman CBE

    Neale Coleman worked at the Greater London Authority from 2000 – 2015, leading the Mayor’s work on London’s Olympic bid, the delivery of the Games and their regeneration legacy, and was a Board Member of the Olympic Delivery Authority throughout its life. Neale co-chaired the Olympic Delivery Group, which had responsibility for leading preparations for the Games prior to the creation of the ODA, ensuring the right infrastructure was in place to support the largest sporting event in the world.

    In addition to the Olympics, Neale led the first Mayor’s approach to housing, regeneration, health and devolution and steered multi agency groups on some of London’s biggest regeneration areas. Neale has also served as Policy Director for the Labour Party. In 2020, Neale was appointed National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) Commissioner.

    Veena Raleigh

    Veena is an epidemiologist at the King’s Fund with extensive research experience in public health, health inequalities, quality and safety, and patient experience. Although not sitting on the steering group, Veena will be providing expert advice on the emerging recommendations.

    Themes the inquiry will explore
    • Funding: the opportunities to de-fragment policy and funding programmes at the local level to improve the quality of public service outcomes and address concentrations of deprivation.   
    • Leadership: the role that devolution to democratically elected local leaders can play in binding communities and anchor institutions together to strengthen resilience, align national and local priorities and articulate policy interventions necessary to support balanced economic growth.   
    • Growth: the optimal relationship between local and national government, the private and public sector and physical and social infrastructure investment in addressing inter and intra-regional inequalities.   
    • Place: the potential of local cultural capital and other assets to strengthen inward investment, encourage entrepreneurialism and support the changing composition of populations within communities post COVID-19.