International optimism day (Thursday 3 February) provided a perfect opportunity to reflect on the Levelling Up (LU) announcements last week.
As we consider the detail and hear arguments from all sides, each with their own agendas, one thing is for certain. Local government’s role is crucial, if we are to see successful thriving communities develop, providing all citizens across the UK with an equal chance of positive life outcomes.
To support the emerging post-pandemic picture across the UK, Socitm is developing a narrative around Regeneration, Sustainability, Connectivity (RSC). We are proud to be championing this on behalf of our 2,500 members throughout the UK.
Through this lens, we will support our members in playing their part in delivering the 12 missions set out for LU, building on local, place-based capability and capacity, and harnessing data to:
- better understand the distribution and root causes of inequalities;
- target resources and know-how to address these causes (level-up); and
- deliver a sustainable reduction in regional variation in healthcare and wellbeing of people and communities.
Debate around what will be achieved or celebrated by politicians in media soundbites from the ’12 missions’ that make up LU will play out in the months and years to come. However, local authorities have already rolled their sleeves up and demonstrated that regeneration, sustainability and connectivity are already high on their agendas.
Local public service leaders are constantly asked to re-think the ‘art of the possible’ in relation to whether and how they should use technologies and data.
Socitm’s research and thinking
To support this, Socitm has developed several resources and briefings which capture the phenomenal response that has unfolded since the pandemic gripped the nation two years ago.
Our Planting the flag – a new local normal, Covid-19 digital impact survey and Our digital jump into the future report together give detailed insights into the impact and response of local government organisations during the pandemic. Our wider work around key policy themes, ethical practice, leadership development, emerging digital trends and the application of concepts such as doughnut economics inspiring healthy and well communities are all shaping our understanding of ethical, digital placemaking .
An accompanying Championing place-based recovery infographic draws these resources together and, drawn from more than 200 local authority recovery and regeneration strategies, maps out how local authorities are seeking to move from front-line response, via local post-covid recovery, towards community focused regeneration.
Alongside this, our place-based recovery prospectus goes further by highlighting how a variety approaches are supporting wider community regeneration and ethical change, issues that assume even greater relevance in preparation for the societal and environmental challenges that lie ahead.
On collaboration, we have much to learn from the recent example of the vaccine roll out. Strong leadership from local government to really understand the people in their patch allowed local authorities to be the interface with the community, while the NHS brought the scale of delivery.
While the words may have changed, the required actions have not. The focus is on local authorities and authentic place-based leadership, which involves bringing citizens in early, along the long road of recovery. Socitm plans to deliver resources and to engage with its members to enable them to play an active part in the practical delivery of LU and its outcomes.