What’s your take on “Levelling up the UK?”

What’s your take on “Levelling up the UK?”

The long awaited “Levelling up the UK” white paper was released earlier this week to mixed feedback from the market.

The phrase “levelling up” is one that the government have been throwing around for a little while now. Last year, when the Department for Transport announced it would be creating major offices in Birmingham and Leeds, we looked at the benefits of relocating outside of the London Hub.

You can read that here

The newly published report centres around 12 “national missions”. But arguably one of the most interesting from the transport & infrastructure sector’s perspective is the focus on devolution of powers.

“By 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.”

For many transport & infrastructure businesses, the argument for having a London hub is to have their people close to the decision makers. But this will totally eradicate that contention and open up a wealth of opportunities when it comes to talent.

When we take a look at our recent nationwide search assignments, 45% of the longlist was made up of candidates from London and the South East. So that leaves 55% of the market spread around the rest of the UK.

Obviously, these are very generalised numbers. They were truly UK nationwide searches for due to the nature of the roles and businesses. But the principle stands that by limiting yourself to solely operating from a London base, you are cutting off a significant portion of great candidates.

As the government put it in their report, “While talent is spread equally across our country, opportunity is not”.

The differential in salaries for equivalent roles between London compared with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds is approximately 10-18% in most businesses.

Furthermore, the cost of running a business from London is significantly higher. This chart from Statista shows that the cost of renting office space in the City of London is 68% dearer than in Manchester and 88% more expensive than an office in Glasgow.

While the point of the levelling up agenda is to even out statistics like this across the country, in the short term it’s definitely a figure to keep in mind when considering where you want to bolster your teams.

Levelling up is a long-term objective for the UK, and one that is very much welcomed by all areas and regions across the country. Whether or not you agree with the governments take on how it will be achieved, I think we can all agree that something major does need to happen.

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director