15-strong levelling up task force to drive flagship policy

Officials will be recruited from across government for new unit
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By Richard Johnstone

13 May 2021

A new Cabinet Office levelling up unit has been tasked with developing the policy priorities for the government’s drive to tackle regional inequalities, and will work closely with the freshly-established No.10 Delivery Unit.

It was reported on Tuesday that the unit would be created, and it has now been confirmed that the unit will drive work on the levelling up white paper.

Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech set out plans for a levelling up white paper that the government said would contain “bold new interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunities throughout the UK".

In a briefing on the Queen's Speech, the government defined levelling up as “about improving living standards and growing the private sector, particularly where it is weak. It is about increasing and spreading opportunity, because while talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not. It is about improving health, education and policing, particularly where they are not good enough. It is also about strengthening community and local leadership, restoring pride in place, and improving quality of life in ways that are not just about the economy."

Developing this agenda will now be undertaken by the unit, which will work closely with Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP who has been named prime minister Boris Johnson’s levelling up adviser.

CSW has learned that the team will be based in the Cabinet Office and made up of 15 civil servants led by a director. The team will be  recruited in the normal way from across the civil service, with people from the full range of departments eligible to apply.

It will report directly to Johnson on the development of what government called an ambitious set of policy proposals, covering areas including public spending, devolution, inward investment, industrial policy, manufacturing and growth and regeneration.

The unit will also work closely with the No.10 Delivery Unit, which has been established following the recommendations of a review by Sir Michael Barber. The unit has been created to provide “the strongest possible approach” to support the successful delivery of the government’s agenda, focused on jobs, skills, and reaching net zero.

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