Global CIPFA study finds national approach to levelling up is ineffective


CIPFA's Investing in regional equality - lessons from four cities report finds polices designed to address regional inequalities are most effective when they are tailored to individual communities' needs, as opposed to a national and centralised approach.

The research, carried out in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, is published today ahead of the British government's highly-anticipated levelling up white paper. It finds that if governments want to reduce inequalities between regions, investment should be diverse and focused on a blend of economic, cultural, business and spatial development. The most successful city-regions are empowered to deliver their own levelling-up policies.

The internationally-focused report looked at case studies in Fukuoka in Japan, Cleveland in the US, Nantes in France and Leipzig in Germany. All four cities studied recognised that a long-term outlook was needed, backed with significant levels of sustained funding. Cleveland's flagship city project, for example, has a 20-30 year strategy to build community wealth and a more inclusive economy.

Having expert local knowledge was also evident in Nantes, which was able to build on its traditional manufacturing strengths and skills in shipbuilding to transition to high-end specialist cruise ship construction as well as aerospace manufacture. Governments should focus on local economies, effectiveness of policies, efficiency of delivery and equality for citizens, which will help maximise value when addressing inequality with limited public funds, the report adds.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said: "This report shows there is no quick fix to addressing inequality. The answers are complex, but what is clear is that a long-term approach is needed coupled with sustained levels of funding. A clearly defined strategy and vision, specific to local issues, are also essential in helping level up communities.

"The international examples in this report serve as an excellent blueprint for producing innovative, targeted and effective policies – which the UK government can and should apply to its levelling up agenda."

Jeffrey Matsu, CIPFA Chief Economist and report co-author, said: "We should recognise that there will always be inequities in society. The role of government policies should therefore be to support opportunities that place less reliance on where you live or who you know.

"While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing inequality, the research shows that access to a quality education, timely workforce development programmes and stable and well-paying jobs are the keys to a better quality of life that can benefit entire communities."

Notes to editor


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money.

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