Our principles for levelling up the country

This section outlines the principles that should guide thinking, decisions and actions as the government defines, shapes and implements its levelling up agenda.

  • Promote equality and tackle inequality for people and places. To level up, we need to address the barriers and structural inequality experienced by women, BAME people, Disabled people, LGBTQ+ and other minoritised groups. Socio-economic inequality is clearly linked with the disadvantage and discrimination experienced by these groups. We must also recognise the disadvantage that exists between and within regions and localities.[1]
  • Take a lead from communities. People experiencing disadvantage know what makes a difference. Communities of place, identity or experience must have a chance to shape the solutions to address inequality.
  • Recognise the role of charities and volunteers. Charities are well placed to address inequality and promote equality. Partnership working with all levels of government is essential to address the urgent social and economic challenges we face.
  • Address the impact of the pandemic. Covid-19 has worsened existing inequality. We need investment to reverse the disproportionate and growing health and socio-economic effects of covid-19 on women, people from BAME backgrounds, Disabled people, older people,[2] and others hit hardest by it.[3][4] Any approach to levelling up needs to address both this more recent and pre-existing inequality.
  • Take a long-term, joined-up approach. To have a lasting impact, funding and decision making needs to be long term. We must think in terms of generations, not general elections.[5] This means preventing inequality by investing in prevention, early intervention and planning for moments of transition, like covid-19 or achieving net zero.
  • Invest in social infrastructure. Levelling up must include investment in both physical and social infrastructure – one without the other will not work. These are the spaces, places and activities that bring people together and build social capital. Where it is absent, life is worse.[6][7]
  • Build and use evidence. Levelling up must be based on transparent and robust evidence. This includes using data from charities to understand inequality[8] and address gaps in official data. It will mean working with charities to develop and report on local, regional and national metrics that relate to meaningful change and wellbeing.[9]
  • Use existing levers. While we may need new initiatives and legislation to drive change, the government could also use existing levers, such as powers under the Equality Act.


  1. Davenport A. and Zaranko B. (2020) Levelling Up: Where and How? Institute for Fiscal Studies

  2. Age UK research lays bare the drastic impact of the pandemic on our older population’s health and morale’. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/articles/2020/10/age-uk--research-into-the-effects-of-the-pandemic-on-the-older-populations-health/ (accessed August 2020)

  3. £1m investment in community-led social infrastructure can deliver £2m economic and social, £1.4m in fiscal, and other non-monetised benefits.

  4. ‘How to measure wellbeing?’ whatworkswellbeing.org/about-wellbeing/how-to-measure-wellbeing/ (accessed August 2021)

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 05 August 2021