Levelling up at heart of Budget: statement from the Institute of Economic Development
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has reported that “Budget measures announced by the Chancellor are set to put powers and money in the hands of communities most in need”.
You can read DLUHC’s press release in full here, which includes details of Trailblazer devolution deals, Investment Zones, and Levelling Up Partnerships.
In response, Institute of Economic Development (IED) Executive Director Nigel Wilcock said:
“We are pleased to see the power of local economic development and regeneration being recognised in the Spring Budget and that the Levelling Up agenda remains a core focus of government.
The IED has consistently supported the principles of devolution, and putting decision-making and budgets into the hands of communities, but it is clear that the government is now betting its house on Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) as the main pathway to achieving this. It is also doubles down on the devolution framework set out in the Levelling Up White Paper that if you are not in a MCA then there is significantly less on the table for you going forward.
There are two specific areas of the Budget that we especially welcome. One is the commitment to further funding to support shortlisted regeneration and town centres bids that were originally made into the Levelling Up Fund (LUF). The IED called for unsuccessful LUF bids to be prioritised in the final round and, having fed that idea into government, we are pleased to see this message being heard.
Second is the new Investment Zones based around universities and focused on driving growth in the UK’s key sectors. With a growing number of Higher Education Institutions in our membership this announcement is recognition of the fundamental synergy and necessary collaboration required between universities and economic development professionals, private and public sector.
Whilst the exact benefits and the precise locations of the Investment Zones remain unclear, the IED calls on government to put these plans into practice as soon as possible. The drawn-out process for approving Freeports, by comparison, makes it clear that some streamlining of the exercise would assist everyone involved. We also wait to understand the operation of the new Levelling Up Partnerships in more detail.
We will continue to support our members and sector partners in responding to these, and other opportunities, emerging in the Spring Budget. One way we will do that is through our Advanced Certificate/Certificate in Economic Development which gives economic development and regeneration teams the insight to stay ahead of the curve. Our Funding and Policy Landscape CPD module starting 27th March, for example, could not be better timed. There are some genuinely new investment announcements in the Spring Budget that our members, and their organisations, can now seek to capitalise on.”
Contact: Phil Smith, Institute of Economic Development PR consultant, on 01778 218180 / 07866 436159 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Institute of Economic Development (IED) is the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners. Established 40 years ago, the IED's key objective is to represent the interests of economic development practitioners and ensure their views are widely expressed and noted. The IED is committed to demonstrating the value of economic development work for local and regional communities; the pursuit of best practice in economic development and the attainment of the highest standards of professional conduct and competence.