Intelligent Health blog on the government’s Levelling Up white paper
Intelligent Health’s marketing director Katherine Knight shares her thoughts on the recent government Levelling Up white paper.
The government’s Levelling Up white paper was unveiled last week and has received a mixed response to its ambition. I’ve read the document and many reactions — I particularly enjoyed reading Martyn Allison FCIMSPA Honorary Member of cCLOA – and wanted to share some of our thinking at Intelligent Health.
The paper recognises the complexity of tackling inequalities but there was a missed opportunity to focus more on working with the community. The Local Delivery Pilots have been doing this with Sport England and organisations such as New Local have long been advocating a different approach. From working across the country we at have started to understand how we can support local authorities better using engagement, data and insight working with communities to inform actions.
The Levelling Up agenda sets out to make improvements across a number of areas.
Communities – the white paper refers to the importance of communities (but not until well into the document). It states an aim to restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging. We believe it’s crucial to engage local people and to give residents a real sense of purpose and community. We feel there could have been more on empowering communities. One of our aims is to help people connect with their environment and community and through that regain pride and ownership in their place. We are also committed to work with partners to build out community based data to inform local decision-making.
The government says it will spend a total of £2bn on improvements for cycling and walking. It’s a small drop against overall transport infrastructure budget but the creation of the Active Travel England should also help provide momentum and a voice to strengthen policy. Our evidence shows enabling small changes to daily behaviour through walking and cycling can make a big difference and the overall change across an area can be dramatic. Typically, around 70% of players used active modes of travel more due to the programme.
Health. The paper acknowledges that better health improves productivity and well-being. People living in the most deprived communities in England have up to 18 years less of their lives in good general health than the least deprived.
The government aims to close the gap by improving public health, social prescribing, diet; and tackling diagnostic backlogs. We feel that there could have been more here on the role of physical activity and how that can provide an enabling method to connect and strengthen communities and improve health. The evidence on this is growing (see https://bit.ly/3HKb9yG for a recent publication) and could have been highlighted.
We will continue to work hard to enable local councils and partners to improve health, wellbeing and active travel for residents with a real focus on tackling inequalities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqzAX3HC8ts