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Levelling up in the East of England has a long way to go, report reveals

30 Dec Levelling up in the East of England has a long way to go, report reveals

Levelling up in the East of England is a welcome ambition but has a “very long way to go”, a ground-breaking report has revealed.

The report has analysed the East of England’s level of confidence in achieving the Government’s twelve levelling up missions, which were announced in a White Paper in February this year with targets set for 2030.

At the launch of the East of England’s Levelling Up the East of England 2023-2030 on 13th December, more than a hundred MPs, Peers, council leaders and regional partners heard that levelling up is a very welcome ambition to address inequality. However, there is still a “very long way to go” in the East of England if all twelve missions are to be achieved in the timescales indicated in the White Paper.

The report was prepared by the East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the East of England LGA (EELGA) in conjunction with four universities, NHS partners and a range of private sector businesses including British Sugar, AstraZeneca, Anglian Water and London Stansted Airport. The report revealed there is currently only high confidence in achieving three levelling up missions: employment and pay; research and development (R&D); and wellbeing.

There is medium confidence in achieving four of the missions – those that seek to improve digital connectivity, deliver pride in place, reduce crime and widen devolution. However, there is low confidence in five policy areas, many of which are those most important to the people and prospects of the East of England: improved educational attainment, more skills, better transport, longer healthy living and more affordable housing to buy and rent.

The report examines each of the missions in detail, setting out why each mission is so important to our region; providing an assessment of whether the region is on track to deliver the mission; offering an analysis of the threats and opportunities relevant to the mission; and giving recommendations for the Government to be on track to deliver the mission by 2030. It also charts progress on a key issue for the region which was not explicitly included in the Levelling Up White Paper: sustainability, with particular reference to net zero, renewable energy and water security.

The joint APPG and EELGA meeting was chaired by Peter Aldous MP, Daniel Zeichner MP and Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council and Chair of EELGA, and addressed by DLUHC Minister, Lucy Frazer MP, as well as council leaders from across the party political spectrum:

· Conservative Councillor, Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader Essex County Council and Levelling Up Portfolio Holder

· Labour Councillor, Alan Waters, Leader of Norwich City Council

· Liberal Democrat Councillor, Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council 

Peter Aldous MP for Waveney and Co-chair of the East of England APPG said:

“This ground-breaking report reveals the East of England is an economic success story with high levels of employment and several clusters of R&D and innovation excellence. It is one of only three regions which are net contributors to the Exchequer. However, it is a region where there are also areas of significant deprivation – within our coastal and rural communities and in ‘pockets’ in our towns and cities. Levelling up is as relevant here as it is elsewhere in England. And whilst in some places a good start has been made there is still a very long way to go.”