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How will we know we have ‘levelled up’ in the UK?

08 March 2021

John Penrose MP, Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum joined the latest Presidential Breakfast with ICE President Rachel Skinner to discuss 'levelling up' goals and metrics. 

How will we know we have ‘levelled up’ in the UK?

John Penrose MP, chair of the Conservative Policy Forum, joined an ICE Presidential Breakfast with Rachel Skinner to discuss levelling up, including what the metrics should be and what the role the infrastructure system has in improving these metrics.

Levelling up refers to the government’s intention to deliver more equitable investment in services across the UK, and in England specifically, to deliver better opportunities to the whole of society.

The role of infrastructure in ‘levelling up’

Socio-economic factors, especially health inequalities and a lack of jobs are challenges that must be considered as part of levelling up, alongside economic factors, according to attendees at the event.

They also discussed the links between economic infrastructure projects and social infrastructure to boost the economic and social capital of places.

Further, the importance of transport and connectivity was highlighted, and how the industry must think about how to create ecosystems to support prosperity, rather than looking for a “silver bullet”.

Enabling the role of infrastructure

Devolution, including fiscal, is essential to creating integrated solutions for communities, and attendees recognised that local government accountability and responsibility are vital. It offers significant opportunities to build the foundations for a more resilient and sustainable future that meets the long-term ambitions of the country.

Other financing options will also be needed for local authorities, such as the UK Infrastructure Bank, of which more detail was announced in the Budget last week.

However, to unlock more support for infrastructure investment, ICE has previously said that the industry needs to understand how to humanise benefits and move away from benefit-cost ratios.

ICE will use the points from this Presidential Breakfast to inform its ongoing work in this area.

If you haven’t yet done so, you can sign up to receive ICE’s monthly policy newsletter ICE Informs, which will continue to explore the issues raised at this roundtable.

  • Amy Cox, public affairs manager at ICE