Essex makes key contributions to levelling up scrutiny

  • Date

    Mon 27 Feb 23

A woman and two young children walk along a seafront path in Jaywick, Essex

Essex health and policy engagement experts have played a critical role in scrutinising how the levelling up agenda is improving lives in the east of England.

Dr Beverley Wilkinson, of the Centre for Public and Policy Engagement (CPPE) contributed to a report on levelling up in the region which was launched by an all-parliamentary group in Westminster this week.

Professor Mariachiara Di Cesare, Director of the Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing was one of five panellists invited to the event, which concluded with a call for immediate Government action to level up transport, education, skills, health and housing.

The report, 'Levelling Up the East of England 2023-2030', assessed progress against the Government’s 12 levelling up missions. It found there is low confidence in achieving the proposed targets in five specific policy areas: improved educational attainment, more skills, better transport, longer healthy living and more affordable housing to buy and rent.

Dr Wilkinson, Research Impact Manager, wrote chapters six and eight, which looked at skills and wellbeing, and contributed, with Kate Powis, Research Impact Officer, to chapter two which looked at research and development.

Dr Wilkinson said: “Our CPPE has been an academic partner of the East of England All Parliamentary Party Group since January 2022 and our report is the first review of any region’s progress on levelling up.

“Although the report showed good progress against some of the missions, such as employment, wellbeing and research and development, it uncovered significant challenges in other areas including skills, housing, education, transport and health.

“Contributing to the development of the report offered an opportunity to work with not only regional MPs but also local and regional government and business leaders, all offering their unique perspectives on the east of England’s progress against the missions.”

Professor Mariachiara Di Cesare was one of the panellists invited to respond to the report’s findings at the event, which included a keynote address from Dehenna Davison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Speaking after the event, Professor Di Cesare said: ““The report has provided very strong evidence that the east of England is far from achieving the mission and goals on health because of structural inequalities, a fragile health care workforce, and a growing and ageing population.

“There is an urgent need for systemic changes in which integration, sustainability, and resources are required to ensure success in levelling up the region.”

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge and Co-Chair of the East of England All Parliamentary Party Group, said after the event that “there is growing concern that there is a lack of understanding in Westminster and Whitehall of the social challenges faced by our region.”

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney and Co-Chair of the East of England All Parliamentary Party Group added: “Now is the time for real, tangible action on levelling up that will make a positive difference for residents the length and breadth of the region.”

The Westminster launch came just weeks after the announcement that Essex is to establish a Centre for Coastal Communities in Clacton, part of a £20m town centre improvement project backed by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.