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2nd February 2022

Solace statement on the levelling up white paper

Responding to the publication of the Government’s levelling up white paper, Joanne Roney, Solace President, said: “Levelling up the country is a concept we in local government very much support and today’s white paper is a positive step forward which we can all build on.

“It is great to see the focus on broadening and deepening devolution across the country; true levelling up can never be delivered from London.

“And we applaud the ambition embodied in the twelve missions that the paper sets out. It is particularly pleasing to see the recognition and importance of addressing health inequalities where ensuring local authorities have parity of esteem with the NHS will be key.

“But given the breadth and depth of the myriad challenges communities right across the country face, Ministers will need to look beyond the proposals in the white paper if they are to deliver the sort of transformational change we all want to see but which, in reality, successive governments of different political colours have failed to deliver.

“Most importantly councils have an irreplaceable role to play in both convening and delivering for their citizens so levelling up will never happen if local government is not provided with the sufficiency, certainty and flexibility over the finances it receives.

“Cuts to council budgets have hampered the delivery of long-term regeneration and other projects that have the potential to transform economies and lives, while the UK public sector as a whole has simply not done enough to invest upstream with a view to addressing some of the most complex challenges our communities face, leading to poor outcomes for generations of individuals and higher demand for expensive public services. Greater investment in prevention and early intervention must be a key part of the levelling up agenda in the coming years.

“Improving peoples’ life chances and changing the trajectory of places is no easy task and it will require strong leadership at all levels of government. This is an agenda that cuts across almost everything we do nationally, regionally, and locally and it will require a consistent cross-government approach to make it work.

“We will all need some time to fully digest the contents of this white paper and work out what this all means for the people and places we serve. But we very much welcome Ministers’ ambition and we look forward to working with both them and Civil Servants right across Government to turn this vision in to reality.”