With strong sentiment around the Government commitment to redrawing the economic map, today’s Budget speech took a positive and optimistic step towards the Levelling Up agenda.
It had been extremely encouraging to see the Levelling Up Fund increased last week to £4.8bn and extended to become UK-Wide, so I had been waiting with interest to understand more today about how the Fund – and indeed Levelling Up itself – will operate.
I was left feeling optimistic about some of the measures being taken, including the launch of the first round of funding and also the £150m commitment to enabling local communities to support theatres, sports clubs and other venues which may currently be under threat.
Despite my optimism, I cannot help but think there has been a missed opportunity today to clarify for the nation exactly what Levelling Up will entail. The issues behind geographic inequalities in this country are deep-rooted, varied and not easily resolved. But if this policy – which played such a starring role in the manifesto – is to start delivering, then I feel strongly that social value must be embedded right from the beginning.
This is why we have thrown our support behind Rt Hon Justine Greening’s 14-Goal proposed framework for Levelling Up. The framework ‘Levelling Up Goals’ provides the clearest iteration of the areas that must be addressed if this challenge is going to be met head on and, most importantly, it provides a structure for measuring progress.
While this kind of systemic change must of course be led by Government, we all have our roles to play and I would strongly encourage business leaders to review these 14 Goals and determine how their own social impact could be measured against this framework.
Sean Haley, regional chairman, Sodexo UK & Ireland
Last month, Sodexo UK&I launched its Social Impact Pledge 2021 which includes commitments to supporting the Levelling Up agenda – pledges which will help individuals and businesses overcome social and cultural challenges through skills development, social mobility and job creation.