COVID-19, Brexit and the Regions
David Fellows argues that this commitment to levelling-up offers the promise of greater opportunity for workers and businesses but it is a huge undertaking that cannot be delivered without coherent vision, leadership and major tangible contributions from Government.
The Government must, therefore, champion: greater higher education sector engagement with industry; the use of Government procurement to promote regional economies and help develop emerging businesses; a system of enterprise zones and free ports with special incentives for business to relocate and invest; the creation of regional investment institutions (to make good the lack of commercial credit particularly for regional business ventures); the introduction of integrated government export advice centres; and a decentralised Civil Service. This is far more than the need for regional transport infrastructure improvement often referred to by Government.
The Prime Minister has said that levelling-up will be used to deliver the country's emergence from the effects of COVID-19. The use of homeworking in response to the virus has demonstrated that digital communication can support relocation out of London for most public or private sector businesses. At the same time, Brexit has provided an expectation of change and a greater sense of self-reliance, freed from the constraints that EU regulation that could place on the levelling –up agenda.
For the UK levelling-up becomes both a test of political integrity and a practical recognition of the shared commitment and sacrifice invested in the defeat of COVID-19.
This article can be found in full at: http://blog-
About the Author
David Fellows is a public financial management and digital communication expert and a director of PFMConnect. Previously he worked at a senior level in UK local government and in the Cabinet Office as an advisor on local government reform. He has written pieces on public financial management and digital communication for the World Policy Journal, the IMF, the Australian National University and USAID.
PFMConnect Ltd is dedicated to improving public financial management (PFM) and public service governance with a particular interest in international development. The company has a range of non-financial expertise to complement its PFM core and promotes the use of digital technology to improve public service delivery and citizen engagement..