ISBE Entrepreneurial Governance and Place Leadership Track
Virtual Webinar – To be held May 2021
Professor Joyce Liddle and Professor John Shutt
Levelling Up? The need for more entrepreneurial governance and policy making
The UK’s major towns and cities have been the focus of economic growth in recent years, but this has been very uneven. High performing major towns and cities have been mainly in the wider South East, such as Milton Keynes, Reading, and Cambridge, but other cities across the Northern Powerhouse such Leeds and Manchester have kept pace with the growth targets. However, some of the older de-industrialised cities and towns such as Middlesbrough, Stoke or Scunthorpe have performed less well, even prior to COVID 19 and potential repercussions expected after Brexit. Disparities in economic performance of cities is also reflected in regional differences. Between 1998 and 2016, London’s economy grew by 71% compared with about 30% in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the West Midlands regions.
In ‘The North East after Brexit: Impact and Policy’ Liddle and Shutt argued on the importance of city leaders developing a stronger regional and sub regional voice in the decade ahead. Brexit cannot be regarded as a one-off episode but part of an on-going process that will require both caution and continued vigilance if the UK Government is to deliver on its declared promises to the British people. Newly elected MPs across the Red Wall; those representing Northern constituencies, have a duty on behalf of their constituents to continue to lobby central government on the shape of future UK Spending Reviews, on the distribution mechanism for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and on the specific policy levers such as the UK Industrial Strategy that will rebalance the national economy and bring industry and new investment to the North of England, and away from its concentration in London and the SE.
The government is launching a Levelling Up Fund worth £4 billion for England, that will attract up to £0.8 billion for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the investments in local infrastructure are intended to have visible impacts on people and communities to support economic recovery. The LE Fund will be open to bidding from local areas facing particular challenges; those that have received less government investment in recent years and in need of growth and regeneration. Further details will be announced on 3rd March 2021. In addition to the Levelling Up Fund, there is a Towns Fund, and Infrastructure Fund, and a consultation underway on the shape and fair distribution mechanism for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (to replace EU Structural Funds). There are also concerns on whether specific policy levers such as the UK Industrial Strategy (with local areas developing Local Industrial Strategies, LISs) to will rebalance the national economy, bring industry and new investment to revive the social and economic fabric of ‘left behind places’ .The new Levelling Up Index is based on six indicators (spending power, financial dependencies, crime, deprivation, health and empty commercial properties) will determine the level of future central government funding in addition to existing block grant. See https://wpi-strategy.com/levellingupmap/and categorises local authority areas as either (i) an Achiever, (ii), a Borderliner, or (iii) a Priority. Also, in the wake of COVID 19 all localities are expected to deliver Local Recovery Plans but these must be green, with funding through SR20, which sets out the PM’s Ten Point Vision to tackle climate change whilst simultaneously supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK, in transport, infrastructure, house building, zero carbon industries to support a green industrial revolution to £12 billion.
We welcome contributions from scholars who wish to debate how ‘Levelling Up’ might affect some of those towns and regions considered to be ‘left behind’ and some of the issues we think might add to the overall policy debate (though this is not an exclusive list) are :-
- Can Mayors and CAs deliver substantial cultural and socio- economic changes in the period ahead and arrest the rise in regional inequalities?
- How entrepreneurial can English Mayors be, given existing the English constitutional and political framework in which central government still dominates?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the policies under the umbrella of ‘Levelling Up’? Does this policy exemplify a new form of Entrepreneurial Governance and Policy Making, or much of the same?
- How might fragmentation and lack of organisational or strategic coherence of UK Government policy be addressed (or not?) by ‘Levelling Up’?
- What likely Entrepreneurial Governance and Policy Making alternatives might there be to ‘Levelling Up’?
- What alternative resource bases or strategic approaches could aid ‘Levelling Up’?
- Do public/civil servants have the necessary capacity and skills to deliver on ‘Levelling Up’? What are the key gaps in skills and data, and other constraints that could frustrate this agenda?
If you are interested in joining this Virtual Webinar (to be held during May 2021 (exact date and time to be confirmed once we receive abstracts/EOIs) either as a presenter or attendee, please submit a 350-word abstract, or an expression of interest in joining us, by 16th April 2021 to