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THE 2022 FESTIVAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
22 October - 13 November
FoSS and ESRC logos

Levelling up the country or levelling up our city?

Professor Chris Millward is joined by a panel of West Midlands leaders to explore the implications of Levelling Up for our local area.

Cartoon depiction of community of people facing forward

My local area theme

What’s on offer?

Described as the "defining mission" of the current government, the Levelling Up agenda aims to reduce economic inequalities between regions in the UK. This initiative presents numerous opportunities for the West Midlands but how can the benefits be maximised? Join Professor Chris Millward and a panel of West Midlands leaders to explore the opportunities and challenges of Levelling Up for our region. 

This 1 hour panel discussion will be held on the University of Birmingham campus and proceed as follows:

  1. Welcome, introductions and focus of the seminar (5 mins)
  2. Summary of the approach to levelling up / government position on this (10 mins)
  3. Response from each of the panellists, steered by questions from the Chair on what changes could be made to policy and practice to help local leaders to serve their communities as well as their organisations (30 mins)
  4. Questions to the panel from the Chair and the audience (40 mins)
  5. Conclusions and close (5 mins)
     

What’s it about?

Through its levelling up strategy, government aims to: 

  • Boost productivity, pay, jobs and living standards by growing the private sector. 
  • Spread opportunities and improve public services.
  • Restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging. 
  • Empower local leaders and communities.

To support this, it has promised devolution deals for every part of England that wants one, a deeper deal for the West Midlands and a re-wiring of central government so that all departments are held to account for their impact on local areas.  

Whilst the strategy aims to empower local leaders to support their communities, the current systems of governance sometimes work against it. This is because organisations with common local interests are accountable to different parts of national government and its agencies.  

Leaders often find this difficult to navigate because they want to support their local community, but it may not be to the advantage of their organisation. The promise of further devolution and joined-up accountability may help, but the approach to this remains uncertain.     

This panel discussion will:

  1. Share experiences and insights from West Midlands leaders working in local authorities, schools and universities on how they are balancing the interests of their organisations and local communities
  2. Debate what local and national leaders could to ensure that communities are better supported
  3. Hear directly from the audience on their priorities for local authorities and education in their local area. 
     

Who’s leading the event?

Confirmed panel members : 

  • Chris Millward, Professor of Practice in Education Policy, The University of Birmingham (Chair)
  • Andrew Mitchell, from perspective of local MP and what matters to his constituency
  • Sajid Gulzar, CEO of Prince Albert Community Trust 

Open to

This is open to all. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. The seminar will be an opportunity for the West Midlands community to be  part of an important discussion with local leaders.  

Of particular interest to

Any member of the public who is interested in the impact of the Levelling Up agenda is welcome to attend.  This may be of particular interest to those working with local authorities or in public sector roles.