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Survey: Low hopes across Britain for levelling-up agenda

Words: Laura Edgar
Levelling up / iStock-696418376

A survey has suggested that just 11 per cent of people in Britain expect more investment in local facilities following the coronavirus pandemic.

Those in the North have even less confidence in seeing improvements in their region.

Commissioned by Social, the YouGov survey of 2,005 adults from across Britain explores people’s views and feelings about their local areas and how they think the Covid-19 pandemic will affect them. It also questions their trust in organisations with an interest in their communities.

The government has embarked on a programme to level up everywhere in the UK. Social said the results of the survey raises questions about the awareness of and trust in the government's programme.

Social’s first Place Index report finds:

  • 52 per cent of respondents living in the North East and 38 per cent in the North West said their local community would be left behind other more affluent areas as a result of the pandemic.
  • 19 per cent of respondents living in the South East and 26 per cent of Londoners who responded shared the same concern.
  • 68 per cent of those living in the North West said the quality of community facilities in their area had deteriorated over the past five years, while (55 per cent of respondents in the South East felt the same about their area).
  • 65 per cent from across Britain said their local high street was important to them, with that figure rising to 70 per cent in the South West and 71 per cent in the North East.
  • 37 per cent of all adults said they felt their local high street had no future, falling to 25 per cent in London.
  • 51 per cent disagreed with the statement that there are not enough homes in their area.

Social director Ben Lowndes said: “Our Place Index report highlights a disconnect between the government’s levelling-up ambitions and confidence in those communities which stand to benefit from it.

“As a business that’s worked in local communities across the UK, we recognise and support the ambition to reduce regional inequalities that persist in Britain. But these findings suggest that much more needs to be done to gain confidence and trust of those living in areas that stand to benefit.

“Local communities have faced tremendous pressures during lockdown and places have experienced dramatic changes to their high streets, public services and amenities. They must be involved meaningfully in conversations about the future of those areas if ‘levelling up’ is to mean anything to them.”

The Place Index also highlighted the low levels of engagement in consultations. Of the respondents, 51 per cent said they had seen or heard about a consultation in their area, but only 22 per cent said they have contributed to or attended one.

On accessing clear and accurate information on proposed developments, 37 per cent of respondents trust their local authority and 24 per cent trust friends, family and personal contacts. Local media is trusted by 21 per cent, housebuilders 11 per cent and campaign groups 12 per cent.

Social said this highlights the communication challenges for organisations seeking to deliver sustainable, inclusive places.

The report makes a number of recommendations to improve engagement in the development process, including to engage openly and authentically “to shift the focus of communications from ‘selling’ a concept to building consensus”.

The report can be downloaded here.

Image credit | iStock