Business in the Community: the business of levelling up

A message from Baroness Valentine

The Conservative Party is hosting its Spring Conference in the very place that businesses, the community and the council have made the home of levelling up. This is an exciting opportunity for Blackpool, the local area and its people.

Levelling up is the right policy for the UK. There have been too many communities, and too many people, left behind for too long. The vision and ambition of the levelling up white paper is something that Business in the Community (BITC) shares, and we look forward to working with the government to make that vision of fairness and aspiration a reality.

The information on this page is designed to give you a flavour of the work and experience that BITC has in levelling up. We have been working with communities across the UK for forty years to bring opportunities to those who have been left behind.

If you would like to find out more information about the work that we do, please feel free to contact me or my colleagues Aoife and Evie.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Co-Director of Place and Levelling Up at BITC.

Contact Baroness Jo Valentine.

Contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media and Public Affairs at BITC.

Contact Evie Park, Programme Officer at BITC.

How Business in the Community is supporting levelling up

Business in the Community’s Place Taskforce

BITC’s Place Taskforce is made up of leaders from businesses, the voluntary sector and local authorities, and is chaired by Lord Bassam. Last year, the taskforce launched a call for evidence into the role of business in place-based regeneration and levelling-up, with the ambition of capturing “what works” from those who are on the ground making levelling up a reality.

The findings from the call for evidence provide practical recommendations on both the role that business, in partnership with other sectors, can play in delivering on the ‘how’ of the levelling up white paper, as well as the foundations that are needed, both nationally and locally, to truly transform communities. The full report will be published May 2022, but some of our headline conclusions and recommendations will include:

  • Local place-based partnerships, which include the public, voluntary and private sectors, are crucial in aligning key stakeholders to deliver on levelling up.
  • BITC’s local Business Connectors play a crucial role in breaking down long-standing barriers between stakeholders to convene these partnerships.
  • Business leaders have a unique set of skills to bring to the table, but they need to be empowered and not restricted to successfully drive change.
  • Levelling up funding needs to be flexible, long-term, and localised to have maximum impact.
Business Connector Programme

BITC has unique insight into the challenges facing communities across the UK and is well placed to bring about real, long-lasting change. We work with businesses, the community and local government to make the most of the opportunities for growth.

For the past 40 years, BITC has been bridging the gap between communities, local authorities, and businesses. We work with businesses to support them in making responsible business decisions that benefit people, the planet, and communities. BITC is currently operating in eight places with plans and the ambition to scale up to have a place in each region and nation.

  • Blackpool
  • Bradford
  • Coventry
  • Lowestoft
  • Norwich
  • Rochdale
  • Sheffield
  • Wisbech.
What are Business Connectors?  

Business Connectors are employed by BITC and spend time building trust within a local community, breaking down long-standing barriers between stakeholders. Support from BITC’s network of senior business leaders provides strategic oversight to bolster the local insight that Business Connectors can have.

How can Business Connectors support with levelling up?

The success of BITC’s Business Connectors roles is down to their neutrality and knowledge of the area that they are working in. Trust within a local community is crucial when trying to bring opportunities to areas that have been left behind.

The Levelling Up White Paper sets out an ambitious vison that will help support places across the UK. From BITC’s experience there are a number of components needed to drive long-lasting change. They are:

  1. Collaboration between business, local authorities, the voluntary sector and communities is crucial.
  2. Time. Change will not happen overnight, and results will not be immediate. Quick wins are valuable to foster buy-in from communities, but long-term transformational change takes years.
  3. Trust between stakeholders has previously been a barrier to achieving long-lasting change. An independent person on the ground, such as a Business Connector, can foster a shared vision over which all stakeholders can feel a sense of ownership.
  4. Commitment. All those involved should be willing to commit a minimum three to five years to transforming a place. BITC hires Business Connectors for an expected three year minimum.
Business in the Community in Blackpool

Over the last five years, Blackpool has brought together a unique local partnership between the Council, businesses and the voluntary sector, supported by BITC, to find new ways to tackle the town’s long-standing opportunities and challenges together.

With significant support from central Government programmes, the Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership, has delivered a united and confident vision for Blackpool.

By 2030, the Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership is aiming to:

  • create and safeguard at least 10,000 jobs and grow the economy by £1bn
  • create 3,000 new quality homes
  • increase employment rates for 16-24 year olds.

Read the Blackpool Town Prospectus: 2030 agenda for action.

Business in the Community in other places

Find out more about BITC’s place work, enabling a a strong business-led approach to building trust between business and society.

Contact details

Contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy at BITC on 07702 903 216.

Contact Evie Park, Programme Officer at BITC.

Contact Baroness Jo Valentine, Place Director at BITC.