Level Up: A major Onward events series

2021-06-11T08:49:58+00:00 June 1st, 2021|Event, Onward|

We are delighted to announce Level Up, a major series of virtual panel events to galvanise thinking and generate new policies for the levelling up agenda.

The Prime Minister has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to levelling up as the primary economic mission of this Parliament. Far from blowing the Government off course, the pandemic, he argues, “gives us a much greater chance to be radical and to do things differently, to build back better, to build back bolder, and so we will be doubling down on our strategy, we will double down on levelling up.” 

This is the right ambition. But it is more easily said than done. The UK is the most regionally imbalanced economy in the developed world. Bringing opportunities to Britain’s lagging places will require concerted action and bold, long-term policymaking.  The panel events will focus on the key challenges for ministers as we emerge from lockdown and seek to deliver a strong and sustainable recovery. We have an exciting lineup of speakers, with more due to be announced over the coming weeks. 


Full fibre growth: How can digital industry and infrastructure drive levelling up?

Underpinning so much of our modern economy and society, full fibre has great potential to level up communities across the country. Whilst industry rollout of full fibre continues to accelerate, many obstacles remain – including practical barriers slowing down deployment, and lack of clarity on how rural areas will be included. This panel will explore how we can best navigate and overcome these barriers to meet the new government rollout target and unleash the huge benefits digital can bring. 

  • Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister for Housing 
  • Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, Former Minister for Housing 
  • Henri Murison, Director, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership 
  • Simon Holden, Group Chief Operating Officer, CityFibre

When: Monday, 15th March

Time: 11am – 12.15pm 

Read a full summary here.

Taking back control: How can a revolution in governance help level up?

One of the UK economy’s enduring weaknesses is the confusing and weak governance structures that exist at local level. While Germany and the United States, for example, have established regional and local governance, much economic and social policy in the UK originates in Westminster. This event will consider what the future model of local governance could look like, and how best to make it work. Ahead of the publication of the Devolution and Recovery White Paper, it will provide a platform to examine how devolution or other reforms could be a catalyst for more powerful local leadership, stability, and community empowerment.

  • Simon Clarke MP, Former Minister of State for Regional Growth & Local Government
  • Jo Gideon MP, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central
  • Professor Phillip McCann, Chair in Urban and Regional Economics, Sheffield University
  • Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive, Power to Change
  • Neil O’Brien MP, Member for Harborough (C)

When: Tuesday, 20th April

Time: 10.45am – 12pm 

Read a full summary here

Comparative advantage: How to build clusters of excellence and innovation

The Government has committed to levelling up R&D across the country and a new place-based innovation strategy. Governments around the world have sought to support local clusters of innovation in specific fields to support competitiveness and drive high value innovation. The life sciences sector in the UK is a top three global hub, the number one recipient for foreign direct life sciences investment in Europe and the industry employs over 250,000 people across the UK. How can this comparative advantage help build more regional clusters? What can Britain learn from Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv in its approach to levelling up? It is possible to accelerate agglomeration in specific parts of the country to lead the world in strategic industries?

  • Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation
  • Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Liverpool
  • Neelam Patel, CEO of MedCity
  • Séamus O’Neil, CEO of Northern Health Sciences Alliance

When: Monday, 10th May

Time: 11.15am – 12.30pm 

Read a full summary here.

How do we bring good jobs to the places that need them most?

Economic insecurity and a lack of good jobs are persistent problems in many communities, particularly for people in poverty. The decline of manufacturing and the growth of a more flexible labour market have meant that opportunity for people to find purpose, progression and dignity in work is unevenly distributed. It was wrongly assumed that people would move to find better jobs but this has not been possible for many reasons, including the lack of affordable and available housing, and many people have become trapped in insecure employment or unemployment. How can we build the bridges of opportunity and maximise the potential of workers across the country? This event will consider what more policy-makers can do to bring high-quality jobs to the areas that need them most. It will offer an opportunity to explore how best to create long-term, sustainable and secure work, and to give people back economic hope and social pride in their towns.

  • Mims Davies MP, Minister for Employment 
  • Miriam Cates MP, Member of Parliament for Penistone and Stocksbridge
  • Dr Anna Valero, ESRC Innovation Fellow, LSE Centre for Economic Performance
  • Mike Hawking, Head of Policy and Partnerships, JRF

When: Monday, 10th May

Time: 3.00 – 4.00pm 

Read a full summary here.

Levelling up public transport: Connecting people, jobs and communities

Public transport has a key role in facilitating productivity growth and prosperity. Better transport connections can attract new jobs to a struggling town, enable residents to access good jobs and services in a nearby area, and allow businesses to cooperate across a wider geographic area. This event will consider how investment in the UK’s transport infrastructure can contribute to levelling up our towns and cities.

  • Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister for Rail 
  • Katherine Fletcher MP, Member of Parliament for South Ribble 
  • Professor Sir Tim Besley, Professor of Development Economics, LSE
  • Phil Whittingham, Managing Director, West Coast Partnership

When: Monday 17th May

Time: 4pm – 5pm

Read a full summary here

Return on investment: Who funds levelling up?

If levelling up is to be successful, it will require investment, often in places with lower growth and productivity. While institutional investors are increasingly investing outside London and the South East, the pools of capital available often pale into comparison with funding pots available in the City of London. How can we unleash more financial support to regional regeneration, when land values and structure factors hold back potential returns? This session will explore the options for financing levelling up.

  • Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • Felicity Buchan MP, Member of Parliament for Kensington
  • Gareth Davies MP, Member of Parliament for Grantham and Stamford
  • Rupert Harrison, HMT Former Chair, Council of Economic Advisors
  • Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair, City of London Corporation

When: Tuesday, 18th May

Time: 4pm – 5.15pm

Read a full summary here

Making it big: The future of UK manufacturing

UK manufacturing has been in decline for the last fifty years, and with that decline has come the erosion of stable, skilled jobs and the hollowing out of industry in many parts of the North, Midlands and Wales. Towns and cities that formed the engine of the industrial revolution now make up some of the areas most in need of levelling up.

The shift to a services-based economy has tended to benefit city centre locations. If we want to see more good jobs outside city centres, what role can manufacturing potentially play? The UK has a wealth of manufacturing successes, from automotive and aerospace in the Midlands and North, to optoelectronics in Scotland. This event will consider what policies could support UK manufacturing and bring good, skilled jobs to places that need more

  • Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Business and Industry
  • Professor Juergen Maier CBE, Chair, Digital Catapult
  • Professor Janet Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy, The University of Warwick
  • Ian Muldowney, Chief Operating Officer and Engineering Director, BAE Systems Air

When: Thursday, 10th June

Time: 11.00am – 12.15pm

Register here.