By Ian Hudspeth, Associate
Government announcements always produce winners and losers, the Levelling up white paper is no exception whichever side you feel you are on its important to take advantage of the opportunities for the benefit of your residents.
I can hear the cries from southern England that all the funds are going to the north particularly ‘Red Wall’ seats. In northern England it might be said that this is simply re-announcing existing funds streams. It may feel like that but there are many opportunities within the white paper to improve outcomes for residents if local government is brave enough.
Who can argue with the ambition to have a truly integrated transport system?
Who can argue with building zero carbon homes particularly for those in most need?
Above all who can argue to improve education and skills outcomes?
These building blocks will enable future well educated residents to live in quality homes within easy access to employment sites. This must involve strategic planning to bring all these areas together.
Perhaps the area that is missing is linking all of this into a truly integrated healthcare system which focuses on preventing illness before it happens. With improved housing stock, better education and zero carbon transport systems then the future health outcomes will be brighter for all residents.
This can only be done by putting democratic local government at the heart of the decision-making process. The fact that it will be local areas to determine the best option for themselves is a clear signal that this is serious devolution. A mayoral system might be a step to far for some areas however there are other opportunities to improve local accountability and efficiency.
Within the 332-page document there are many opportunities to improve outcomes for residents now is the time to take advantage of them.