Today's Levelling Up White Paper is a statement of intent to tackle UK regional inequality, a huge problem that various Governments have grappled with for decades, often with limited success.
Some of the ambition in the paper, particularly the longer term approach and a recognition of the importance of cities and city regions in relation to innovation and growth are welcome.
So is Government's recognition that Levelling Up is about more than just economic growth, and the breadth of the 12 missions
But the Secretary of State and his advisors are still guilty of pursuing a centralist approach to problems that global evidence, including that from Core Cities UK and the OECD, shows a decently funded and empowered local state could solve quickly and efficiently.
For example, the Paper’s ambition to join up departments across Whitehall is the right aim, but Governments have been trying to do that for years. The real joining up needs to happen at the local level, empowering places to pull Whitehall into alignment where it matters most. City leaders are uniquely placed to do this, convening local agencies and getting them to work together strategically for maximum impact.
Instead of regional directors and mandated national targets, Government should be empowering city and local governments building on our heritage of delivery, achievement and innovation.
This goes beyond functional devolution. Core Cities UK has consistently argued that a place-based approach, allowing public services to be more joined up and responsive, is key to tackling deprivation and raising regional productivity. Investment in a smart local state will pay countless dividends for future generations.
We welcome the Secretary of State's emphasis on collaboration and ongoing dialogue. This is a huge policy area of vital importance to the wellbeing of our millions of citizens. We look forward to working with partners to influence this agenda and will soon produce a detailed formal proposal responding to the White Paper.