From education to employment

Majority of levelling up missions at risk due to cost of living crisis new report shows

Graeme Atherton

As the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill goes to its next committee stage in the House of Commons this week analysis of the government’s 12 levelling up missions shows that two thirds are at high risk of not being achieved whilst 2 more are at medium risk due to impact of the cost of living crisis. 

The Levelling Up White Paper published in February 2022 placed these missions covering areas including raising educational standards; reducing crime; increasing productivity and reducing differences in inequalities in life expectancy at its centre. This report published by the Centre for Inequality and Levelling Up (CEILUP) at the University of West London looks at the best available evidence regarding how the implications of the cost of living crisis in terms of increased poverty, higher inflation, recession, higher interest rates and falls in public spending will affect these missions.

Looking at over 100 different pieces of evidence the report shows that missions related to productivity, research & development, education, health inequalities, well-being, pride of place, home ownership and crime are the most risk of not achieving their targets by 2030. The missions related to skills and internet connectivity are at medium risk while those focused on devolution and transport should be less affected.

The report argues that the missions are heavily dependent on public spending and government commitment and all the missions are at risk if this spending on levelling up is reduced. It also shows that:

  • Avoiding recession is essential if the missions are to have a chance of succeeding so the government is right to focus on growth.
  • But as is stopping any increases in poverty so the government needs to be equally pro-active where poverty is concerned.
  • Clear metrics for all the missions need to be established.
  • An amount of funding per mission has to be identified and protected from any future reductions in government spending.

As the lead author of the report, Professor Graeme Atherton, Head of the Centre for Inequality and Levelling Up, said:

This committee stage already feels like a crossroads for levelling up. These missions address the long term challenges facing the most economically challenged communities in the country but the risk of them not being achieved is very high unless the short term issues related to the cost of living crisis are addressed’.

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