Stephen Bell OBE, CEO at Changing Lives, responds to the Levelling Up White Paper:
We welcome the intent of today’s Levelling Up White Paper which aims to address entrenched disadvantage in communities that have been hardest hit by the loss of public services in recent years and are most affected by social, health and economic inequalities that have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several of the ‘missions’ set out in the White Paper have the potential to make a lasting difference to the people we support, including a commitment to high-quality skills training, priority given to increasing healthy life expectancy, wellbeing improvements in every area of the UK, and progress towards achieving safe, secure housing for all.
But we are concerned that the Government’s ambitions do not go far enough, and that investment in levelling up will be insufficient to meet the Government’s own aims. And, while we are pleased that government has recognised the need to place more power in the hands of communities, we do not yet see a strategic vision for the role of civil society in helping to deliver this agenda. For the voluntary sector, from grassroots groups to larger organisations, our strength is in our connection with communities and our ability to build meaningful relationships with people who many public services struggle to reach.
At Changing Lives we stand ready to play our role, and look forward to working alongside local leaders in the communities we serve to ensure that levelling up delivers for the people we support. This means breaking the cycle of homelessness and unemployment, addressing hidden barriers to employment for many of the people accessing our services, creating the conditions for good work, and addressing health and social inequalities at scale.
We see in our services that people who have been in the most desperate of situations move on to do extraordinary things with the right support, and we are hopeful that today’s White Paper is a step in the right direction towards making this a reality for everyone.