Top Jobs To Deliver Levelling Up Have Been Scrapped
Bishopgate Bolton (alamy)
Government plans to employ a group of Levelling Up Directors who would oversee its flagship policy regionally have been scrapped.
The 12 proposed jobs, advertised with salaries up to £144,000, would have seen individuals appointed across nine English regions, and one each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and were first announced in the Levelling Up white paper in February 2022.
According to the Levelling Up white paper, the directors would have been expected to “act as a single point of contact for local leaders and a first port of call for new and innovative local policy proposals”.
But responding to a written ministerial question at the end of last month, Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison confirmed that the roles will no longer go ahead.
"In early 2022, prior to the establishment of the Levelling Up group and the wider departmental reorganisation, the former Second Permanent Secretary led an external recruitment process for Levelling Up Directors," Davison wrote.
"There were over 500 applicants, but – given the wider departmental changes – Ministers have decided not to proceed with the appointment of the directors."
Davison explained that the "renewed and significant senior departmental capacity, combined with the progress of the English devolution agenda, means that we believe that we are best placed to deliver levelling up by working directly with Mayoral Combined Authorities, local government, and the devolved administrations".
Labour's shadow levelling up minister Alex Norris described the news as an "embarrassing shambles".
He told PoliticsHome: “The story of these directors is symptomatic of the government’s approach to Levelling Up: announced with big fanfare before being beset by delays and then quietly dropped by ministers who hope nobody notices.
“This whole thing has been an embarrassing shambles. We deserve far better than a government so inept that it can’t even appoint people to a dozen jobs it created."
Earlier this year the government had declined to give a timeframe for when the appointments would be completed.
A spokesperson at Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) told PoliticsHome in January that the “robust” process to fill the positions was “still ongoing”.
Days later, levelling up minister Dehenna Davison told a committee of MPs that the roles were subject to an internal review.
“We want to make sure that when we put directors in place they are doing the right work and we have got the right people there," she told the Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities committee.
“There is a bit of an internal review going on at the moment.”
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