The Levelling Up agenda is one of the largest government transformation programmes and political commitment by seeking to relocate 22,000 civil servants from London to the Regions and support balancing out the UK economy between the South and the North.
When preparing for this webinar I thought about the role of the private sector in supporting central and local government to drive the levelling up agenda and came to 3 key strategies to achieve success.
1) Location, development investment and regeneration
The type of office space we need is changing. Teams want more flexibility and agility in their working week and to collaborate with colleagues more easily when they come to the office. Post COVID we will need to think differently and repurpose or reimagine spaces left vacant following the pandemic and support local developments to create great commercially viable and sustainable places. For example, we are working with a number of local authorities outside London to repurpose vacant retail stores into modern office spaces in order to bring people back to our town centres and creating jobs on the high street.
2) Quality of Life
But it’s not all just about the office. The spaces in and around the places we work are just as important as the buildings themselves. Sustainable levelling up is not just about moving a department to a new area – it needs to be embedded into the local economy to ensure these communities have a good quality of life to work, live and play. A cross sector approach is needed: better quality housing, good transport connecting regional hubs and towns, digital connectivity, proactive healthcare and an exciting and safe leisure and night-time offer. So, what role does the private sector have in delivering this? Developing PPP’s that are mutually beneficial can become an anchor to cross sector collaboration. This can be enhanced by creating an anchor industry and targeting, specific specialisms in a town or City to increase private sector confidence and investment, such as healthcare and medical sciences in Leeds or IT and financial services in Edinburgh.
3) Talent and key skills
Successful levelling up will focus on the people and creating the best possible environment for people to thrive in at work and at home. Talent and skills are our most valuable asset across both the public and private sectors, so we need to evolve our operating model structure to support capability development and sharing of resource. For example, looking at co-sourcing business relationship models where functions are delivered through combined efforts of public and private sector teams, should enable sharing of resources to support high value, high salary roles in regional locations. This will support recruitment and attract talent.
For sustainable levelling up to be a success the private sector should be challenged to unlock spaces that deliver multiple outcomes for a region, creating partnerships that support targeted sectors to stimulate investment and evolve operating models to create better access to resources and attract talent.
Catch up on the webinar below.