Levelling Up - maximising the opportunity

06 July 2022

The Government’s Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022 outlined that: ‘…not everyone shares equally in the UK’s success. For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued. As some areas have flourished, others have been left in a cycle of decline.’1.

Levelling up is a mission to challenge, and change, that unfairness. Levelling up means giving everyone the opportunity to flourish. It means people everywhere living longer and more fulfilling lives and benefitting from sustained rises in living standards and well-being. Levelling up requires a focused, long-term plan of action and a clear framework to identify and act upon the drivers of spatial disparity. The White Paper sets out that evidence from a range of disciplines identifies the following key drivers of disparity:

  • Physical capital – infrastructure, machines, and housing
  • Human capital – the skills, health, and experience of the workforce
  • Intangible capital – innovation, ideas, and patents
  • Financial capital – resources supporting the financing of companies
  • Social capital – the strength of communities, relationships, and trust
  • Institutional capital – local leadership, capacity and capability.

The White Paper further sets out 12 missions that Levelling Up seeks to achieve which will be tracked by Government over the next decade. Levelling Up funds are open to applications from local authorities with the first round complete where £1.6 billion was distributed (of a total budget of £4.9 billion) and the second round of funding closes on 6 July 2022.

Local Government – Maximising the Opportunity

Levelling Up presents one of the most significant project management challenges for local government. To support prioritisation of funds, the Government assessed local authorities into categories 1, 2 or 3, depending on their identified level of need, with category 1 representing places deemed in most need of investment through this Fund. Local Government is critical to delivering the outcomes of Levelling Up and SPF as the recipient and accountable organisation for these funds. Each Levelling Up initiative will be unique –with varying budgets, risks, and timelines in a challenging economic environment. This is further impacted by changing workforce expectations as a result of the pandemic. Local Government must ensure they take their residents along with them on any Levelling Up journey and understand and deliver against agreed expectations. This provides Local Government with new opportunities and options to maximise taxpayer value especially where Levelling Up and SPF funding is further contributed to by Local Government funds.

With the first round of the Levelling Up Fund complete and the second funding round underway, how can you maximise this opportunity? This paper sets out areas you will want to consider whatever stage of the journey you are on. To support this, the Levelling Up Wheel below takes each stage of the process from Pre-Application, to developing your Business Case, arrangements Upon Receipt of Funds and On-Going Monitoring and this paper discusses each area.



1 Levelling Up the United Kingdom