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On a mission – mapping the evidence to the Levelling Up missions

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Whatever your views on the Levelling Up the United Kingdom White Paper the 12 missions it identifies will inform local and national strategies and future funding decisions.

As always, we believe that these strategies and decisions will have more chance of success if they are informed by the evidence on what works.

To help, we’ve looked across all our briefings, evidence reviews and toolkits, and pulled the most relevant for each of the Levelling-Up missions in one location.

Understanding ‘what works’ and ‘what works better’

The Toolkits, evidence reviews and briefing notes that are brought together cover topics around place, such as investment in broadband infrastructure, and regeneration; support to businesses, such as advice, mentoring, grants, and tax credits; and support to individuals, such as apprenticeships and training.

For many policy areas, you’ll find what we know about differences in the impact of the project by sector, firm size, or whether participation was targeted at certain individuals or businesses. The toolkits offer more detailed evidence on ‘what works better’ to inform your designs of projects or funding bids.

For instance, the evidence shows that the impact of broadband varies across types of industries, skill level of employees, and size of firm allowing better understanding of where infrastructure investment will be most effective. And for business training, while there is little evidence that it has an impact on start-ups’ long-term business performance, the evidence shows positive effects on profits and employment for existing firms. This, and a wealth of additional information on the effectiveness of different approaches to business support can help inform policies aimed at improving firm performance.

Understanding your local area

In addition to looking at the evidence on what works, we know that evidence around your local context is essential. The White Paper highlights both the importance of good data in understanding factors affecting local economies, and the current gaps in data that need addressing.

The first principle in our 10 principles for an effective local industrial strategy (developed back in 2018, but still relevant today) discusses the use of data to inform local strategies. We also published guidance on using data for local economic policy and Covid-19 focused guidance on making the best use of data around economic recovery

Bringing it together

Combining the findings from ‘what works’ in our evidence reviews and toolkits and the data on your area provides a stronger foundation for policy design and business cases for future funding.

For example, data on local unemployment might show that unemployment is particularly high in 50-64 age group. Figuring out who is supported by existing employability programmes, as well as reviewing our summary of the evidence of ‘what works’ on employability programmes, should leave you better able to demonstrate how policies will deliver the changes you want to see.

Whether you have been delivering projects to level up for decades or are considering new types of interventions, you want to know that the mix of policies and projects you choose is supported by the evidence. To help you in this, we will continue to share both the evidence on ‘what works’ and how to make the best use of evidence. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to keep up to date with our latest work.