Urban leaders call for a focus on skills and transport ahead of landmark ‘levelling up’ white paper

The Government is expected to publish its long awaited white paper on levelling up this autumn.

Ahead of this paper, the Centre for Cities has collated an anthology of short essays from eight mayors and urban council leaders on what they need from the Government’s upcoming white paper to help level up their cities. The contributions bring together perspectives from urban leaders right across England, reflect a breadth of political opinions and focus on practical measures that they say will level up their areas.

Common policy areas that urban leaders say a focus on would support their area include transport, skills, encouraging private sector investment and digital connectivity.

The contributions were written in advance of this weekend’s announcement that city regions outside of London are set to receive a £6.9 billion injection into their public transport infrastructure in the upcoming budget.

The country’s urban areas are home to more than half the population and should play a central role in the levelling up agenda but, currently, they underperform on a range of economic indicators when compared to international counterparts.

Tracy Brabin, the mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Levelling up is not just about closing regional gaps between the North and South, it’s also about narrowing the unacceptable socio-economic inequalities between communities and groups within our region.
I am using the powers and funding I have to support the people and businesses of West Yorkshire, but there are gaps in key areas and increased levels of devolved funding and powers are required to accelerate change.

“Specifically, we need greater investment in transport to deliver a mass transit system for the region and commitment that Northern Power Rail and HS2 will be delivered in full. We need to empower local people with the skills they need for a fulfilling career, currently less than half the working age population have essential digital skills for work. Investment in flood resilience is required and long-term collaborative action to enable us to meet our net zero carbon emissions ambition. In addition, support for the local culture sector is key so that people do not have to move to London to have a stellar career in the arts.”