Power in Place: new approaches to addressing regional inequalities

Professor Cecilia Wong

A University of Manchester publication released today presents a series of evidence-led solutions to tackle regional inequalities and boost the levelling up agenda.

The 44-page document begins with a characteristically incisive foreword from Lord Kerslake, former Head of the Home Civil Service.

Power in Place – published by the University’s policy engagement unit, Policy@Manchester – incorporates research and recommendations from academics across nine policy areas.

These include strengthening participation in devolved policymaking, boosting young people’s wellbeing, making local environmental policy more inclusive, and supporting charitable organisations through the cost-of-living crisis.

Closing the attainment gap in schools for children living in poverty is another key policy challenge featured in the publication, together with addressing health inequalities in left behind neighbourhoods, placing health and wellbeing at the heart of urban regeneration, encouraging better ‘place-based’ coordination of skills and education opportunities for young people, and mapping spatial differences to make policymaking more effective.

In his foreword, Lord Kerslake acknowledges that last year’s Levelling Up White Paper “gave official recognition by the government to the deep-rooted and long-standing nature of regional inequalities across the UK.”

But he says: “Those people who questioned the scale and depth of inequalities have been exposed as modern ‘flat earthers.’”

The crossbench peer argues that “political rhetoric now needs to be translated into policies and programmes of action” which are “still missing.”

He continues: “In part this is because of the complexity of the challenge and the need for change in both our institutional structures and technical capacities. This is highlighted in the diversity of contributions in this Policy@Manchester publication.”

Lord Kerslake writes: “Despite the rhetoric of levelling up places, government policies are still ‘place blind’.”

He adds: “The articles in this report provide evidence-led ideas about how we can improve place-based approaches to tackle inequalities.”

Professor Cecilia Wong, academic co-director of Policy@Manchester, said:

“We are excited to publish Power in Place which is a significant contribution to the national debates on levelling up policy as we approach the next General Election.

“The diversity of subject areas addressed in the document underline the remarkable quality and breadth of public policy thinking by academics at the University.

“Policy@Manchester is particularly grateful to Lord Kerslake for writing such an illuminating foreword, based on his many years of experience at the highest levels of local and national government.

“We hope the publication is read widely by policymakers, and the suite of solutions it provides are taken onboard.”

Power in Place is now available to read on the Policy@Manchester website.

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