In a new article published in Regional Studies, lead author Dr Mark Fransham, DSPI’s Senior Departmental Research Lecturer in Quantitative Methods, assesses the government’s high profile levelling up programme and explores whether it can really change lives, or if it is just another buzzword.
Level best? The levelling up agenda and UK regional inequality critiques the policy programme from its emergence in 2019 to the publication of the 2022 levelling up White Paper. Dr Fransham finds that, while the central government agenda is a welcome recognition of gross regional inequality, local institutions lack the capacity and funds to deliver it.
Dr Fransham’s research highlights how the UK’s economic disparities persist, and suggests central government continues to address them largely in rhetoric only and local institutions lack the power and resources needed to achieve genuine change. As such, he concludes, levelling up may end up being the latest in a list of politically useful but ultimately empty slogans.
The article was written in collaboration with Max Herbertson and Neil Lee at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Mihaela Pop and Margarida Bandeira Morais at the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford.
Read the full article.