A report setting out the proposed approach to Levelling Up in Warwickshire.
Councillor Isobel Seccombe (Leader) presented this report which set out the proposed approach to Levelling Up in Warwickshire. She noted that there had been wide-ranging collaboration to develop the approach set out in the report and drew particular attention to the appendix which set out the principles to the approach to levelling-up. Essentially, the report set out a long-term joined up partnership approach, informed and targeted to communities of place and interest based on clear data and insight and interventions which would aim to address the root causes of communities’ issues, building on the strengths found in the relevant communities.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse noted that the report would also be presented to and debated at district and borough level. He suggested that some flexibility on the delivery of projects would be beneficial and rather than focussing on geography, a wider cultural and generational change would be more productive, for instance, an improvement of early years facilities on a wider scale would also deliver results within the communities of interest. He also advocated for the involvement of local councillors in bringing ideas to the table and requested that the process of doing so be shared at an early stage.
In relation to comments Councillor Roodhouse made with regard to the performance of housing associations, Councillor Seccombe acknowledged that changing the quality of housing could result in changing outcomes for health, perception of place and an associated perception of uplift in opportunity. However, she noted that the districts and borough had a closer relation with the housing associations.
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers recognised the reasoning for a focus on the Lower Super Output Areas, but considered that local level plans should capture and recongise the fact that some areas fell just outside the measures for inclusion.
Councillor John Holland welcomed the move forward through consensus and mutual agreement and noted the success of place-based approaches but also considered that it would be important to look at cross-county quality of services to achieve levelling up for disadvantaged communities that lived in a wider geographical area (eg with regard to SEND).
Reflecting on her experience with the Green Shoots project, Councillor Heather Timms considered community power in terms of levelling up, and emphasised the need to build some resilience in those communities which were traditionally slow to engage on projects and required greater levels of support.
Resolved that Cabinet approves and adopts the Levelling Up approach as attached in Appendix 1 to the report.
David Ayton-Hill presented the item and noted that this session was to get feedback on the Communities OSC specific areas:
· The White Paper (WP) was introduced in February 2022 as part of the Queen’s speech and the first bill soon followed (Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill)
· The bill set out a programme of change set around 12 national missions to be achieved by 2030
· Devolution would likely be a part of the bill and this could be used to deliver the levelling up agenda
· The WP had four key objectives (Boost productivity, pay, jobs, and living standards by growing the private sector, especially in those places where they are lagging; Spread opportunities and improve public services, especially in those places where they are weakest; Restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging, especially in those places where they have been lost; and Empower local leaders and communities)
· Work was being done to apply this to Warwickshire and ensure that it complements WCC’s work
· WCC plan to be cross organisational by working with partners/stakeholders, local communities, and residents to ensure a clear, focused and joined up approach cross county
· Communities needing most help should get it and Warwickshire’s residents should receive all the benefits they can from WCC and central government
· Levelling up will take generations to have a long-term impact
· The relevant missions in the WP to the committee were: Local Leadership (England as a whole get the chance for a devolution deal with long-term funding and extra powers), Pride in Place (people satisfaction with Warwickshire’s town centres and the engagement with their local areas has risen), Transport Infrastructure (everywhere has improved connectivity and is closer to the standards seen in urban areas), Skills (the number of people who had successfully completed high-quality skills training will increase cross-country), Digital Connectivity (ensuring that people are connected for gigabit capable broadband and more mobile phone coverage), Housing (ensuring more house ownership and the number of non-decent rented homes has fallen by 50%), Crime (ensuring that crime has decreased everywhere but especially in the worst affected neighbourhoods) and Living Standards (employment, pay, and economic productivity)
· These approaches need to be linked to existing and emerging strategies e.g. the Local Transport Plan will focus on levelling up around increased connectivity and improve all residents ability to travel actively or via public transport
· The updated Economic Growth Strategy and Digital Infrastructure Plan will include the levelling up agenda as well as the existing strategies/plans
· Employability and skills are critical to levelling up because household income is a determinant on these outcomes. Therefore, work needed to be done to improve this through levelling up
· Feedback received from residents highlighted the importance of town centres in terms of Pride of Place as prosperous town centres made happier residents
· Funding streams would be used to invest in town centre businesses when available
· All partners were being collaborated with to achieve the levelling up principles and progress was good so far
· WCC want to focus on strength-based approaches to ... view the full minutes text for item 4
The Committee is asked to consider and comment on the proposed approach to Levelling Up in Warwickshire ahead of the consideration of this matter by Cabinet.
Nigel Minns, Strategic Director for People introduced this item, supported by Sarah Duxbury, Assistant Director of Governance and Policy. In February, the Government published the Levelling Up White Paper, which outlined its strategy to “spread opportunity and prosperity to all parts of the country” by 2030, through twelve national missions. The missions were detailed in an appendix to the report. The approved Council Plan included a commitment to the Levelling Up agenda and to understanding what that meant for Warwickshire. Additionally, two reports had been considered by Cabinet setting out the overall direction on, and proposed approach to Levelling Up, with a planned further report in July after consideration by the four overview and scrutiny committees and a range of stakeholders.
The aim was to create a reference point for the Levelling Up agenda, complementing existing work and highlighting specific challenges and opportunities in the county. The report provided an outline of the emerging approach along with content tailored to this committee’s remit and to seek member input to feed into the subsequent report to Cabinet.
The detail of the report listed the twelve missions in the White Paper, and a diagram mapped these to the Council Plan areas of focus, showing a considerable degree of overlap. Equally there was overlap between the remits of the overview and scrutiny committees, the missions and areas of focus. Appendix 2 to the report set this out in more detail, highlighting the areas of most relevance to the remit of this Committee.
The report outlined the stakeholder engagement to date. Using the feedback received, alongside the ongoing engagement with partners and stakeholders, the working definition for Levelling up in Warwickshire was anchored around:
· Increasing opportunity and social mobility
· Reducing disparities
· Building community power
· Creating sustainable futures
The report then set out the key features of the overall approach, reflected in five key principles which complemented the Council Plan. Core to the Levelling Up agenda was the need to prioritise effort and activity to where it was most needed. Attention would be focussed on specific places and groups, determined by robust evidence, whilst enabling other places and communities to address local levelling up imperatives through more community powered approaches. Robust, credible data would be used at a variety of geographical levels to determine where interventions could have the biggest impact. The report outlined the frameworks which would be used. The Community Powered Warwickshire programme was a key lever for the Levelling Up approach and would be central to delivering the Council’s vision.
Following approval of the Levelling Up approach, the Committee would be able to consider how it wished to track progress, through the related strategies, elements of the Integrated Delivery Plan, and the new Performance Management Framework.
The following questions and comments were submitted, with responses provided as indicated:
Rob Powell (Strategic Director, Resources) introduced the item and reminded members that levelling up was a key national priority. A lot of work had already begun in Warwickshire; the Council Plan, which had been approved in February, had a strong emphasis on levelling up, as did the Delivery Plan, which had been approved in May. Work with partner agencies was now underway to shape a countywide approach to Levelling Up which would be presented to Cabinet for approval in July.
Rob Powell said the Levelling Up White Paper had four objectives: to boost productivity, pay and living standards by growing the private sector; improve public services and spread opportunities, particularly in places where they were weakest; restore a sense of community and local pride; and to empower local leaders and communities. Additionally there were 12 national missions to help achieve these objectives; one of these was devolution. There would be a national measurement and accountability framework to monitor achievement of the objectives. The notion of levelling up was a long-term aim towards 2030, but Rob Powell said there should be a longer focus beyond then. The emerging countywide approach envisaged a dual focus on specific communities of place and communities of interest (particular cohorts and groups of people where levelling up would be most relevant) for levelling up.
The Levelling Up approach to Warwickshire was due to be discussed at July’s Cabinet. This aimed to make sense of the national Levelling Up missions and policy for Warwickshire; to share the Council’s commitment to Levelling up with its communities; to complement everyone’s organisational plans and strategies; to influence current and future strategies; to recognise and build on the power of Warwickshire’s communities, partnerships, networks, and forums; and to inform the future collective work on devolution. Rob Powell said this was not intended to supersede any existing plans or strategies, but would complement them and help influence future strategies. The approach has been shaped through engagement with key partner organisations, and would identify targeted places, cohorts and priorities for levelling up that affected the whole county or certain places, including those at a hyper-local level.
Of the 12 national missions, four had been identified as being particularly relevant to the scope of the Committee. These were reducing crime; securing a devolution deal through a long-term financial settlement; improving residents’ pride in place and narrowing the gap between the top and bottom performing areas; and increasing investment and stimulating growth in research and development.
Members’ attention was drawn towards the various existing strategies and areas of work and how they would link in the Levelling Up programme, and what funding streams were available. Rob Powell reminded members that £1million had been distributed to address post-Covid inequalities through the Social Impact Fund and up to £140million was available via the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund. Additionally the Warwickshire Property and Development Group had a key role in the regeneration of town centres and provision of housing and commercial premises.
Six principles for levelling up ... view the full minutes text for item 4