Levelling up won’t happen unless businesses are involved, report finds

A new report published by Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today called on the Government to ensure that businesses are involved in all plans to level up the country. The report comes as new legislation to support the levelling up agenda, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was announced during the Queen’s Speech in Parliament yesterday.

The report follows a call for evidence to understand how businesses, national government and local authorities can work together to transform communities. Focusing on a variety of themes, the report highlights the importance of collaboration in addressing key issues within a community including employment, skills, housing and transport.

The report makes 14 recommendations for national government, local government and businesses to work together to create local ‘partnerships’ and bring opportunities and investment to communities across the UK. The recommendations include:

  1. Businesses need to secure senior-level buy-in to effectively participate in partnerships.
  2. Levelling up funding needs to be flexible, long-term, localised and aligned with the levelling up missions to maximise the engagement of business and deliver transformative change.
  3. All partnerships need to deliver early action, understand the local issues and opportunities, develop a vision and action plan, and measure their impact.
  4. Town Deal Boards have the potential to be further utilised to deliver the levelling up missions, but central government needs to ensure they are truly business-led and give them increased revenue funding to enable them to operate as an effective place-based partnership.
  5. Businesses should utilise their knowledge and assets to benefit the partnership and the wider community.
  6. Businesses should harness their supply chain to engage more organisations in a partnership.

To help understand the role of businesses in place-based transformation, BITC consulted with organisations in the public and private sectors through a call for evidence, interviews, roundtables and visits. This report is the beginning of a series of publications aimed at supporting businesses to work collaboratively in communities.

Lord Bassam, Co-Director of Place and Levelling Up at Business in the Community, said,  

“Bringing opportunities to areas that have been left behind has been promised by the government but what this report shows is that unless the public, private and third sectors work together in communities, the levelling up agenda will end up being a dream rather than a reality. While it’s evident that the Government has clear levelling up missions that they want to achieve, the question of how they will be delivered seems to remain unanswered for many.

“That’s why our report and recommendations focus on what it takes to make levelling up a success. This report aims to enable businesses to engage in levelling up in a strategic way through doing what the private sector does best, driving innovation and unlocking potential.”

Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:

“Meeting the deep-seated challenges facing communities across England can only be achieved if councils have the powers and funding, they need to address regional inequality, tackle concentrations of deprivation and make towns and communities across England attractive places to live, work and visit.

“As this report emphasises, councils and combined authorities’ unique place leadership role means that by working closely and collaboratively with residents and local businesses, they can help to achieve positive change in places across the country.”

Debbie Pippard, Director of Programmes at Barrow Cadbury Trust said,

“Business has a crucial role to play in ensuring effective, sustainable regeneration. Drawing on a wealth of experience this report provides a rich resource for business leaders and others wishing to use the potential of businesses for good. It provides a roadmap for action, and we hope it will be enthusiastically adopted in communities across the country.”

Ends 

Notes to editor  

  1. Read the full report Partnerships in a Place: The Business of Levelling Up
  2. The call for evidence was launched in August 2021 by BITC’s Place Taskforce, led by Lord Bassam.

For further information, please contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy on 07702 903 216.   

About the BITC Place Taskforce

The Place Taskforce builds on Business in the Community’s four decades of experience facilitating place-based solutions, working across business, community, and government to drive impact, change and opportunities for growth. The Taskforce is made up of specialists from across sectors who will advise, drive and partake in the process. Membership is still growing and currently includes business leaders from Morgan Stanley, Anglian Water, KPMG, Marks and Spencer, Go-Ahead Group, PwC Barclays and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, as well as other experts and representatives from across different sectors.

About Business in the Community 

Business in the community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business. We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:   

·         Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow;   

·         Build thriving communities where people want to live and work;   

·         Innovate to sustain and repair our planet