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Partners meet to discuss priorities for levelling up East of England

Business / Fri 30th Dec 2022 at 10:36am

POLITICAL leaders from across the east met to discuss the priorities to level up the region, with Essex County Council (ECC) showcasing how it is already working to spread opportunity across the county.

The East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) met to discuss the regional levelling up agenda following the publication of the East of England Local Government Association’s (EELGA) Levelling Up the East of England 2023-2030 report.

ECC has already started work on its own levelling up programme and in January 2022 published a white paper setting out the countywide strategy for levelling up in Essex.

Over the last year, the County Council has identified both the key groups of people and geographical areas that would most benefit from levelling up.

ECC has since moved from strategy development to delivery, with eight launch events held and 23 projects initiated that target the drivers of levelling up such as skills, education, community and literacy.

Significant funding has been made available, including an investment of £10 million over the next four years to support economic growth and skills, as well as a separate £11 million levelling up reserve being created.

The 23 projects launched by Essex County Council have seen investment made to tackle gaps in provision across the county including in areas identified in the EELGA report, such as skills, education and health (further specific details on projects is available in notes to editors).

Cllr Louise McKinlay, ECC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, shared the County Council’s progress with the APPG, setting out how ECC is already working to spread opportunities in Essex.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr McKinlay said: “We recognise that levelling up Essex is not something that can be achieved by the council alone and it must have the support of local and cross sector partnerships, as well as communities themselves, to be a success. To drive real, sustainable change we need to work with partners in Essex and across the wider region.

“As one of the first councils in the country to outline our ambitious levelling up plans, I was pleased to share our activity and progress towards success, with the APPG.

“As this new report identifies, there is much work still to be done, but working with our public and private sector partners, businesses, schools and communities we are determined to widen opportunities so that more residents of Essex can fulfil their potential.”

The EELGA report outlines how the region is performing against each of the Government’s 12 Levelling Up missions. As well as identifying areas where the East of England performs well, it also identifies areas where more needs to be done if the region is to meet the Government’s missions.

The report puts forward a number of recommendations as to where levelling up work should be prioritised in each of these areas.

ECC will be hosting a Parliamentary event in March which will explore in more detail how the County Council is driving levelling up at a local level.

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