National CIPFA study identifies global success factors that can accelerate levelling up in the UK


CIPFA's Investing in regional equality –four English examples report finds funding for levelling up in England is insufficient and fails to meet local needs.  

The research, carried out in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, is published today ahead of the government's highly anticipated Spring Budget on 6 March. It finds that if the UK government want to address regional inequalities, investment should be proportionate to a region’s specific tasks and responsibilities. Single pot funding would offer local authorities greater flexibility to respond to local priorities than multiple smaller funds with prescribed uses.  

The report examines English local authorities applying the approaches that have been used successfully by international cities to overcome social and economic inequalities, identified in CIPFA’s 2022 Investing in regional equality - lessons from four cities report. Implementing some success factors in England has been more challenging than in the international city-regions explored in CIPFA’s previous work. This report finds that local areas generally struggle to invest for the long term and to conduct effective monitoring and evaluation. 

The UK-focused report looked at four different areas in England: Dudley, Enfield, South Yorkshire and Tees Valley. All four areas recognised the nine success factors identified in CIPFA’s 2022 report, including that a long-term outlook was needed, backed with significant levels of sustained funding. Enfield’s flagship regeneration project, for example, has a 20-30 year strategy to build community wealth. 

An additional tenth success factor of transferable learning and knowledge exchange was identified as important in England. Prioritising knowledge exchange via a mentorship partnership in Tees Valley helped to relieve challenges of short-term funding, restricted timescales for project bidding and capacity constraints. The government should focus on long-term funding commitments, which will help local authorities utilise local knowledge, bring regional partners together and share experiences between places, the report adds.  

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said:

"This report shows that short-term and insufficient funding threatens the UK’s approach to levelling up. If the government ensures that funding meets local needs, we can reduce inequalities and better improve lives. 

"Along with CIPFA’s international research, the regional examples in this report also confirm the importance of partnership working and collaboration. But learning lessons requires time and money to devote to these activities – the UK government should support these activities in its levelling up agenda."

Jeffrey Matsu, CIPFA Chief Economist and report co-author, said:

"There is no one-size-fits all approach to addressing regional inequalities. Government policies should therefore be flexible enough to allow local regions to adapt support. 

"The research shows that access to local knowledge, a willingness to collaborate and the capacity to monitor and evaluate projects can accelerate levelling up across the UK, leading to a better quality of life for communities." 

Notes to editor

Download the report Investing in regional equality - four English examples

Download the accompanying metrics reports. This report explains how measurement and monitoring of policies and outcomes are vital in addressing regional inequalities. 

The report was co-authored by CIPFA and the City Region Economic Development Institute (City-REDI) at the University of Birmingham, with the research undertaken throughout 2023. 

For more information please contact the CIPFA press office

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