The Levelling Up white paper brings a government focus to many of the issues we’ve been talking about in Renaisi’s place-based Community of Practice for some time. In the next series of meetings, we’ll be discussing some key themes and questions the white paper raises.

As local areas hope for and plan to take on additional powers as a result of the Levelling Up agenda, it is incumbent on us to share what we know about supporting inclusive and sustainable local change.

The white paper recognises the importance of place-based work and refers to decisions being taken closer to the ground, patchy local data, and the lack of investment and energy for much of this work from the government to date.

If there is genuine commitment and funding behind the Levelling Up white paper, there is potential to create some of the changes that are needed to help people and places in the UK to thrive. We think there are some key pieces of the puzzle missing, which we’ll explore in a series of meetings with the community of practice members.

Taking a holistic approach to levelling up

Levelling Up written on top of map of UK and the colours of the Union Jack: red, white and blue

The first meeting of 2022 is themed ‘Taking A Holistic Approach to Levelling Up‘.

When: Thursday 24 February 2022

Where: online.

Time: 12:00 – 13:30 pm GMT

The white paper lays out multiple visions for multiple aspects of community life, from education and skills to health and wellbeing. As it stands, the white paper seems to advocate for addressing these in a place-based way but feels a step away from addressing these issues in a holistic way.

In the meeting, we’ll discuss what we mean by this and explore how we advocate for and support a holistic approach to levelling up.

Community of practice members can register here. If you are interested in joining the community of practice, you find out more about the joining criteria here.

More detail about the Levelling Up series of meetings

The white paper recognises the importance of place-based work and refers to decisions being taken closer to the ground, patchy local data, and the lack of investment and energy for much of this work from the government to date.

If there is genuine commitment and funding behind the Levelling Up white paper, there is potential to create some of the changes that are needed to help people and places in the UK to thrive.

We think there are some key pieces of the puzzle missing, which we’d like to explore with place-based practitioners. Themes we’ll explore in meetings later this year, could include:

  • Acknowledging the root causes of injustice. It is interesting to hear the government refer to ‘complex adaptive systems’ but the white paper is missing some of what we mean when we talk about systemic change. Specifically, addressing the root causes of social issues, which often include oppression and injustice. Are communities expected to move beyond past oppressions without having the opportunity to share their experiences and have this history recognised as part of levelling up? Should we only look forward or fight for acknowledgement of that history as a part of the levelling up agenda?
  • Further sharing power, accountability and leadership. The devolution of power suggested is a devolution to a single local leader (the paper is clear that a single leader is the preferred model). In a sector where we are increasingly exploring shared power, accountability and leadership, how can we continue to advocate for power to be devolved more widely than is proposed in the white paper?
  • Improved use of data. We know that in a place-based systems change context, improved use of data is essential, but we’ve come a long way in recognising how metrics can be misleading and can hide the full story of a place. So, how can we use data well in line with this new agenda?
Louise Kavanagh