The Oxford Martin Initiative on

Regional Levelling-up

The Regional Levelling-up Programme ran from 2021 - 2023. The following page is an archived resource.

The Challenge

The UK has the most extreme regional inequalities in the OECD and one of the most centralised governance and financial systems with government, taxation, public expenditure, courts, and media all controlled from London.

These regional inequalities have become socially toxic and have persisted and intensified despite repeated attempts to address them. The problem is that once a place has fallen badly behind mutually reinforcing problems trap it in continuing failure.

This initiative will bring together specialists across public policy, economics, finance, management and social entrepreneurship to understand how successful regional turnarounds have been delivered around the world, and develop an implementable plan for the UK.

The team will gather a comprehensive set of successful regional turnarounds from across North America and Europe and undertake a systematic analysis of what approaches work best in which contexts.

The researchers have identified and are collaborating with several pilot locations across the UK and by matching the characteristics of the places to this research they will provide targeted and actionable guidance.

The initiative will also examine how institutions and venture capital finance can be harnessed for regional business communities and shifted away from London, which currently receives two-thirds of all Britain’s venture capital for SMEs.

Neither markets, nor local governments, have sufficient capacity to coordinate the research, design and delivery of this approach to levelling-up, resulting in the trial-and-error approach that has been seen over the past decades. The initiative plans to deliver a scalable vehicle that will support the further application and implementation of this targeted levelling-up approach across Britain and, ultimately, across the world.