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Levelling up: rebalancing the UK’s economy

Stark regional inequalities have long blighted the UK and successive governments have tried to tackle them. But no government had made the issue a flagship policy until 2019. The Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022 added detail but, while widely regarded as packed with great analysis, it was short on specific proposals.

Now, with a change of leader in Number 10, ICAEW explores not only where the policy goes from here, but, far more crucially, what can be done rebalance the national economy. Our members play a vital role in UK business and we know that a rebalanced economy will ultimately create better lives for all.


What does Levelling Up really require?

  • 26 Apr 2022
The government’s Levelling Up White Paper is the most recent attempt to improve the fortunes of areas in the UK that struggle to provide jobs and opportunities.
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Levelling Up: will it work?

  • 05 Apr 2022
The phrase ‘levelling up’ has been used since the 19th century. But can this government succeed in resolving regional inequalities where other programmes have failed?
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Explore Levelling Up



The government has outlined science and manufacturing as sectors vital for regional growth – and is hoping to improve the connection between business and the UK’s leading network of universities.


How can we rejuvenate the high street?

  • 26 Apr 2022
The Levelling Up White Paper sets out a range of initiatives for reviving the high street’s flagging fortunes. But are they enough?
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Busy shopping street

Manufacturing remains sceptical

  • 26 Apr 2022
A recent Make UK report shows that the government has an uphill struggle to convince manufacturers in the north of England and in devolved nations to engage with Levelling Up.
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The UK has long struggled with poor productivity compared to similar developed countries. Not only is the national picture worrying, but there are wide regional disparities as well.

Person holding a smartphone and tinkering with a wireless router

How to fuel digital transformation

  • 27 Apr 2022
In Manchester, digital inclusion has already helped to stimulate economic growth. The government’s Levelling Up agenda needs to help develop the skills to match this.
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London is the UK’s exemplar of how investment in transport can expedite business and support growth. But it is the exception, not the rule, and still includes late, over-budget projects that show how difficult it is to get right.

Nottingham tram

Infrastructure: reconnecting the UK

  • 08 Apr 2022
The UK has spent significantly less on infrastructure compared to other OECD countries over the past three decades. Can new projects reverse the trend and provide a boost to the whole country?
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There is clear agreement that regional rebalancing won’t work if managed from Westminster. The UK’s nations and regions will need more decision-making responsibility, without creating an overly complex structure.

Business people negotiating at boardroom behind closed doors

Is the funding approach right for Wales?

  • 27 Apr 2022
The first rounds of Levelling Up funding has been announced through the Shared Prosperity Fund. For some in Wales, it represents a considerable loss.
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Are local authorities ready for Levelling Up?

  • 20 Apr 2022
With the government’s Levelling Up plans unveiled, and some funding allocated, local authorities will now have to take on the task of applying for funding to support their infrastructure plans.
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A person with their hand up to speak at a local community meeting.

How SMEs can work with local authorities

  • 19 Apr 2022
The government is urging local authorities to harness the social power of SMEs in their areas. Which measures will help procurement teams and small suppliers strike up winning relationships?
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Young people working in urban roof garden.


Making Levelling Up work will require the collection and sharing of robust data. Are the government’s plans enough?

A person taking a salary slip out of an envelope.

Measuring levelling up, do we have the right metrics?

  • 22 Jun 2022
In February 2022 the government published the long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper with a list of ‘12 missions’ outlining how it proposes to fix the disparities across the UK. But how will the success of any of these missions be measured? Do we already have the tools we need to do this? Hear from our expert speakers, who have immense practical experience in this area, about what data already exists.
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Data devolution and levelling up

  • 07 Jun 2022
The latest episode of the Insights podcast, where we analyse the latest news from the world of accountancy, business and finance.
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How to measure quality of life

  • 12 Apr 2022
Human capital holds the key to determining levels of wellbeing, according to the government’s Levelling Up White Paper. We explore how this may work in practice, in the context of work.
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Levelling Up is ambitious and will require strong oversight but, as a programme aimed at empowering the UK’s regions, its governance must also reflect the communities it serves.

People painting at a farm

Do Levelling Up building plans align with SDGs?

  • 16 May 2022
Levelling Up targets for greener housing aim to meet UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for human settlements. But are current UK skills and finance models prepared for it?
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ICAEW: “insufficient” fraud prevention for COVID-19 grants

  • 29 Apr 2022
ICAEW calls for the government to learn from COVID-19 business support grants by investing in BEIS’s counter-fraud capability and addressing the assurance gap in grants distributed through local authorities.
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Funding: the governance challenge

  • 27 Apr 2022
The Levelling Up White Paper points to insufficient regional data and the need for a new accountability framework. But will this create barriers for local authorities to access funding?
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Social mobility

Three people in business attire walking up a staircase

Social mobility and inclusion

  • Hub page
  • 09 Feb 2022
As organisations struggle to attract the talent they need, there is a business need to widen the talent pool. At the same time, they recognise the need for diversity of thought in order to survive and thrive.
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Further information

Insights Special
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Covid has taken its toll on both the health of the general public and on public sector finances. We investigate the shape of government finances, both in the UK and internationally.

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Join us in our mission to improve social mobility and help young people develop the skills that business needs.

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