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‘Levelling up' inquiry launched by Business Committee

24 July 2020

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has today announced the terms of reference for its new ‘levelling up' inquiry looking at how local and regional government structures in England (including the role of powerhouses, local enterprise partnerships and growth hubs, city and regional mayoralties, and councils) could be reformed or better equipped to deliver growth locally.

Send us your views

The areas the Committee wants to hear about is below in the terms of reference.

The closing date for submissions is 1st September 2020.

This new sub-inquiry - Levelling up: local and regional structures and the delivery of economic growth - forms part of the Committee's overall ‘super-inquiry' into Post-Pandemic Economic Growth and follows the announcement on Thursday of a BEIS Committee sub-inquiry on the Government's Industrial Strategy.

Chair's comments

Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said:

“Levelling-up is one of the main declared goals of this Government. Ultimately, however, the success of the Prime Minister's levelling-up agenda, in England at least, will rely on English regions having the right local structures in place to deliver meaningful local growth.

“At present, there is a hotchpotch of institutional arrangements across the country with some areas having myriad authorities; from councils and city and regional mayors to local economic and business initiatives and powerhouses. One of the questions we will explore is whether these institutional arrangements act coherently and stimulate real local growth.”

The Committee's inquiry launched today will examine how local and regional government structures in England (including the role of powerhouses, local enterprise partnerships and growth hubs, city and regional mayoralties, and councils) could be reformed or better equipped to deliver growth locally, with specific reference to the Government's ‘levelling up' agenda.

The inquiry will look at issues such as targeted regional investment and regional funding, the Government's ‘Project Speed' and its aim to accelerate infrastructure spending, and also examine how a green economic recovery could help stimulate local economies and boost skills. 

Levelling-up – inquiry terms of reference

The Committee welcomes evidence submissions on the terms of reference outlined below. The key issues which this inquiry will examine includes: 

  • Evidence base: what evidence exists to measure the performance of the various tiers of regional and local government in the delivery of growth? What evidence have regional and local leaders based their local or regional industrial strategies on, and what forms of stakeholder engagement were included in the drafting of priorities? Considering the cost of institutions, what cost benefit analysis exists to show the value for taxpayers' money when compared to the delivery of wealth and job creation? 
  • Local structures: what structures exists across the country and how does this compare across different regions? How do these different tiers work together to deliver local growth? What good case studies exist, and can lessons be learnt from poor collaboration or leadership? How should local structures support delivery of regional growth across England? Do regional or local structures act in the best interests of local priorities and stakeholders or act more as a delivery arm of central Government? What should local authorities do more or less of to achieve these aims? Where should government focus its post-Covid-19 levelling up policy to best support regional growth: English regions, core-cities, towns, Growth Hubs and LEPs? 
  • Stakeholder engagement: how does each tier of regional or local government engage with delivery stakeholders (such as businesses, education providers, etc)? Do different tiers engage in different ways? Where are there examples of good practice? Do stakeholders believe the different tiers are effective and worthwhile to engage with? Do stakeholders consider certain tiers to be more of a constraint on growth as opposed to a delivery partner for growth? 
  • Sustainable local economies: how could a green economic recovery stimulate local economies and embed upskilling at a regional level? Which tiers are best placed to provide the leadership of local net zero and skills-based priorities? Should leadership responsibilities be separate from delivery responsibilities? 
  • Targeted regional investment: how could ‘shovel ready' growth projects in England drive local growth and jobs? How could clustered R&D investment support local growth? How should priorities be agreed across the regions? 
  • Regional funding: how should the UK Shared Prosperity Fund be specifically targeted to replace EU Funding and address regional inequality? What role should local structures play in allocating funding to best achieve regional growth? What role could the British Business Bank have in the post-Covid-19 levelling up of regional economies? 
  • Project Speed: Project Speed will bring forward proposals to deliver government's public investment projects. How should Project Speed identify and distribute growth opportunities into communities across the country to best achieve its levelling up agenda? What should the balance be between Whitehall decision making and local decision making? Do we have the capacity and capabilities at local and/or regional level to do this work on behalf of central government? 

Levelling-up sub-inquiry & the overall Post-pandemic economic growth inquiry

The Post-pandemic economic growth inquiry, launched in June, is an over-arching inquiry likely to run through the Parliament and will include a series of sub-inquiries, including  the ‘levelling-up'  inquiry launched today, and also on the role Government might play as a shareholder or investor in businesses in the future, and the measures needed to rebuild consumer confidence and stimulate economically and environmentally sustainable growth. Further terms of reference for these sub-inquiries will be published during the course of the Parliament.

Further information

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