Regional mayors should be empowered and given responsibility for levelling up funds to rebalance UK economy

New report shows a large number of manufacturers are still disconnected
with levelling up agenda and can’t see any benefit for their companies

 37% of manufacturers are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with
Government’s current levelling up agenda, down from 52% two years
 A quarter of manufacturers said regional mayors should be given
responsibility for distributing levelling up funds to target areas of local
concern effectively and 22% said local councillors should also have
 A significant proportion of manufacturers (30%) do not believe
levelling up is happening and have yet to see any tangible benefit to
their business
 This feeling of disenchantment towards levelling up is particularly
pronounced in those regions the Government is trying to level up – the
Northeast, Yorkshire & the Humber, East Anglia and the Northwest
 A quarter of manufacturers want to see Government prioritise better
support for skills training to create better job opportunities
 A fifth said upgrading local transport infrastructure including rail and
road is key to levelling up in the regions while 17% said greater
incentives for their business to become net zero is needed
British manufacturing is a versatile sector, accounting for £191 billion of Britain’s output,
paying an average of 13% more in start-up wages than the national norm. The majority of
the 2.7 million people already employed in the sector are in those areas Government wants
to level up. A new report “Levelling up: Bridging the gap between policy and progress”
published by Make UK, reveals a significant number of manufacturers (30%) are not yet
convinced levelling up has delivered any tangible benefit to their business.

The research revealed that 37% of manufacturers are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with
the Government’s current levelling up agenda, down from 52% two years ago indicating
some positive movement. A quarter believe that allowing the available levelling up cash to
be distributed locally by regional mayors would mean it could be used better to target
issues and deliver growth and prosperity where it is needed.
The feeling of disconnect with this key tranche of Government agenda is at its worst the
further away from London you go – with the Northeast, Yorkshire & the Humber and the
Northwest the most disillusioned. Some 35.7% of businesses in the Northeast were not
satisfied with the Government’s current progress on its levelling up agenda, with 37% in
Yorkshire & the Humber echoing this sentiment and 27% in the Northwest.
A quarter of manufacturers would like to see Government prioritise better support for skills
training which in turn would create better job opportunities. While a fifth said that
upgrading local transport infrastructure including rail and road is key to levelling up across
those left-behind regions of the UK. Greater incentives for businesses to become net zero
was the ask from 17% of respondents in the report. Many manufacturers are unaware of
the specific levelling up initiatives available to them (over half – 57% – had not heard of
official levelling up schemes such as the UK Community Renewal Fund). Initiatives which
were more high-profile such as HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse and the Net Zero
Strategy were more likely to be on their radar. (87% aware of these).
Regionally the asks were slightly different. Businesses located in the North of England want
to see Government prioritise upgrading local transport infrastructure. Across the Midlands
and East of England, manufacturers wanted to see the Government focus on supporting
them in the transition to Net Zero while the South wanted Government to prioritise
improving digital connectivity, including full 5G coverage for businesses not just domestic

Ben Fletcher, COO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation said:
“Manufacturing has a proven track record of bringing huge amounts of inward investment,
prosperity and well-paid jobs across the whole of the UK. Key to delivering this is for
Government to give us a much-needed National Manufacturing Plan to concentrate growth
in those areas which need investment the most, and where there are the people ready and
waiting to take up the new jobs the manufacturing sector could provide.
“By boosting manufacturing to 15% of GDP from the current 8%, Britain’s manufacturing
sector could add an additional £142billion worth of output to the UK economy, which in
turn would support the creation of thousands of new jobs where they are most needed.
Boosts to infrastructure and skills are clearly needed and a dramatic improvement of digital
connectivity will allow companies from the whole of the UK to compete successfully on the
global stage and deliver true levelling up for all.”

Adam Hawksbee, Deputy Director and Head of Levelling Up at Onward said:

“Manufacturing matters. In almost every developed economy, manufacturing productivity
growth has outpaced other sectors over the last two decades. In the UK, where our
economic story since the 1980s has too often revolved around services, productivity in
manufacturing has had almost double the quarterly growth rate of the economy as a whole.
Ultimately, this productivity growth feeds through into higher wages and living standards. It
is right that manufacturers in this report ask the Government to go further and faster with
their agenda to level up the country.”
George Dibb, Head of the IPPR Centre for Economic Justice added:
“The manufacturing sector has a great potential to create jobs outside London and the
South East, as well as supporting our transition to net zero, if government strategies can
speak to the priorities of businesses and harness their innovation. If we’re going to create a
high-investment, high-productivity, innovative economy with job creation across the
country manufacturers and Government need to work hand in hand to help make levelling
up work.
Link to full report: