Manchester academic joins inquiry into Government’s levelling up agenda

Written by: Joe Stafford

An academic from The University of Manchester has joined the Local Government Association’s inquiry into how the Government’s levelling up agenda might better strengthen local communities. 

The recently launched Levelling Up White Paper presents an opportunity to reset the relationship between central and local government, and put councils at the heart of delivering the Government’s plans to improve opportunities and outcomes in all parts of the country. The inquiry will look beyond the White Paper to investigate the role of local leadership in shaping a recovery that works for all.   

Professor Francesca Gains is joining the inquiry’s steering group which will help to shape its development by gathering evidence, making contributions drawing on their own experience and expertise, and formulating a set of recommendations.  

Francesca is a Professor of Public Policy at The University of Manchester, Academic Co-Director of the University’s Policy@Manchester policy engagement institute, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. 

Her research has examined governance reforms in both central and local government and she was the coordinator of the Manchester research team which evaluated the Local Government Act 2000 and introduced leader cabinet and mayoral arrangements. More recently, her research has examined the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners and devolution to combined authorities and metro mayors. 

Francesca also has a long standing research agenda around equalities policies, and she is a currently a member of the Greater Manchester Women and Girl’s Equality Panel. Over the last year Francesca has chaired a working group of the Panel to examine the issues around education, skills and employment faced by women and girls in Greater Manchester, and the policy responses needed to support the post-pandemic recovery agenda.

The inquiry will explore the following themes:

Funding: the opportunities to de-fragment policy and funding programmes at the local level to improve the quality of public service outcomes and address concentrations of deprivation.   

Leadership: the role that devolution to democratically elected local leaders can play in binding communities and anchor institutions together to strengthen resilience, align national and local priorities and articulate policy interventions necessary to support balanced economic growth.  

Growth: the optimal relationship between local and national government, the private and public sector and physical and social infrastructure investment in addressing inter and intra-regional inequalities.   

Place: the potential of local cultural capital and other assets to strengthen inward investment, encourage entrepreneurialism and support the changing composition of populations within communities post COVID-19.   

This cross party inquiry will provide a crucial focus on the role of local leadership in delivering levelling up, and is a great opportunity to be at the heart of the policy debate on this vital agenda. 

Professor Francesca Gains

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