The future of levelling up

Think tank: Reform

Author(s): Dr Simon Kaye, Patrick King

September 29, 2022

This report from UK think tank Reform looks at whether Investment Zones and devolution transform places like East Birmingham.

The levelling up agenda is not even a year old, and already it has weathered massive economic turbulence and a change of Prime Minister. Clearly, levelling up is here to stay, with a growing focus on local growth and investment zones. Meanwhile the party of opposition seeks to redefine the idea on its own terms. The essential mission remains. Our country is overcentralised, with steep geographic inequalities in life chances, opportunities, and social infrastructure. For levelling up to have meaning in the places that need it most, a radical approach will be needed. A potential future case study for such radicalism could be emerging in East Birmingham, where different tiers of local government are reaching beyond political differences in order to promote a new pathway for levelling up in an area marked by prolonged underinvestment. In this paper, Simon Kaye and Patrick King make the case for the future of levelling up, with greater local autonomy, profound devolution of powers, and a far more transparent, straightforward, and decentralised funding model.