Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL comments on the Levelling Up White Paper

2nd February 2022

Roger Marsh OBE DL

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the NP11 group of northern local enterprise partnerships and of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said:

 

“We welcome the ambition of this White Paper. The North’s opportunity has been unrealised and under-invested in for decades and levelling up will only be achieved if it is a priority shared by the whole of Government, working with local and regional leaders. This White Paper starts to define and measure what success looks like.

 

“We are reviewing the detail of the White Paper and are encouraged. Increasing R&D spending outside London and the South East is something the NP11 has consistently argued is essential to leverage business investment and hit the 2.4% of GDP target, so we are pleased to see this at the forefront of today’s announcement. This needs to be used to develop capacity across the country, building on the three announced Innovation Accelerators. Rightly, the White Paper also makes clear that tackling health inequalities must be a priority of levelling up. Given the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had across the North, we hope that increased R&D investment will support our ambitions for a northern life sciences supercluster that will close the healthy life expectancy divide between North and South, while more than doubling employment in the North’s globally competitive life sciences sector and making the UK more resilient to future pandemics.

 

“It is encouraging to see continued Government commitment to devolution, as well as recognition of the vital role of public-private partnerships being convened by Local Enterprise Partnerships and pan regional partnerships like the NP11. These will be essential if we are to emerge strongly from the pandemic, with businesses and civic leaders working together on shared goals for their local area. We are pleased to see that the Shared Prosperity Fund, and other key funding streams, will be devolved to local areas and look forward to seeing the details of how these funds will operate. To achieve meaningful, lasting change it is vital that this investment is driven by local priorities, not just handed to local areas to manage, with a meaningful business voice, and that it encourages collaboration where this adds value, rather than forcing local areas to compete for centrally held funds.

 

“We look forward to discussing these and other elements of the White Paper with our fellow northern leaders and with the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, at the Convention of the North with NP11 in Liverpool on 8 February, and to agreeing how we can deliver on the levelling up promise for the North, working together as northerners and with Government.”

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