William Eichler 25 November 2021

Gap between Government’s rhetoric and reality threatens levelling up

Gap between Government’s rhetoric and reality threatens levelling up image

A lack of funding and a disconnect between the Government’s rhetoric and reality threatens the ability of local areas to ‘level up’, a new study says.

New research from the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) has revealed a five-step plan for local communities to achieve some level of parity between one another.

ACE’s report, ‘Levelling Up: Five Principles for Success’, argues that in order to drive the levelling up agenda, local leaders need to: 1) build a solid evidence base; 2) work out how they will become famous; 3) build on what they have got; 4) organise delivery around people’s needs; 5) ask the hard questions around capacity and capability.

ACE says that this will ensure that potential projects are affordable and strategic, delivering real improvements for those in left-behind communities, while helping to avoid expensive ‘white elephants’ and ineffective or inappropriate developments.

However, despite laying out this five-point plan, the report identifies a capacity gap in the UK with spending on local authority planning, policy and strategy, which is down 69% to £247m in the 10 years prior to 2018.

In order to help overcome this institutional deficiency, ACE argues for greater collaboration between local authorities and other bodies, and for a broader and more holistic approach to the distribution of funding.

While our research demonstrates a disconnect between political ambitions and delivery on the ground, our industry is ideally placed to be the delivery partners of choice, helping to plug gaps in local authority provision,’ said Peter Hogg, chair of ACE’s places group and levelling-up taskforce and UK Cities director at Arcadis.

‘Our five-point plan will help government at all levels ensure projects and programmes deliver tangible and real-life improvements, turning the noise around levelling up into impactful deliverables, improving opportunities for work, education and economic growth. All vital goals as we aim to build back better post-pandemic across the UK.’

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