Wising up to levelling up – with Professor Diane Coyle and Sir Howard Bernstein

Episode 7,   Apr 21, 2021, 11:01 PM

‘Levelling up’ has become an earworm. It featured highly in the Conservative manifesto in 2019, which was referring to improving infrastructure, skills, productivity and economic growth across the country. The idea is to make the UK economy less lop-sided, and less focused on London and the South East. 

The aim of ‘levelling up’ has gained even more potency because of the pandemic. For those working in health, policies to level up might also help tackle avoidable inequalities set out by Marmot and others, caused by factors injuring health like poor housing, low quality work, and low skills. In short, poverty and deprivation.

But the government’s levelling up strategy is still under construction. The recently announced Levelling Up Fund is mainly focused on basic infrastructure like transport, not health.

So is levelling up a real and serious aspiration? What would a strategy look like that might also help reduce health inequalities?

In the latest episode of our podcast, our Chief Executive Dr Jennifer Dixon discusses these issues with two expert guests:

  • Professor Diane Coyle is an economist and the Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. Diane has many other distinguished roles, including advising the government on economic policy during the pandemic, and leading an independent review for Greater Manchester, which shaped its industrial strategy
  • Sir Howard Bernstein was the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council from 1998 to 2017 and is honorary chair in politics at University of Manchester. He led the devolution of power and budgets to Greater Manchester – the ‘DevoManc’ deal signed between the Government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority in November 2014. He is also a member of a new taskforce set up by the government to advise on the regeneration and development of town and city centres in the wake of COVID-19.