• Andrew Laird

A welcome kick start for the “levelling up”​ agenda

Updated: Mar 23


MV’s Andrew Laird says that a new report by Danny Kruger MP provides a welcome kick start for the government’s levelling-up agenda and is full of ideas.

I’ve just finished reading Danny Kruger’s report “Levelling up our communities”. It’s extremely heartening at a time when there is not much good news.


The report is focused on practical ideas to “lock in” the community spirit and connection we have seen in the response to the Covid-19 crisis. Danny describes: the willingness of local voluntary and community organisation to step forward and lead; the new flexibility shown by public services; and the social commitment of many businesses.


He argues that, when you add the potential of digital tech into the mix, “community power” can replace the dominance of remote public and private sector bureaucracies. I don’t know many public or private sector local leaders who wouldn’t wholeheartedly endorse that ambition.


For me, specific ideas that jumped include (some of the commentary is my own):

Public service is a responsibility of everyone not just paid public servants – I think we have all witnessed both sides of this coin during the crisis. We will have watched with admiration people going above and beyond to help the vulnerable. But we will have also seen people acting selfishly, stretching and breaking government guidance to release their own frustration at being locked down, convincing themselves that their actions won’t make a difference.


Community/Family hubs are the future of public services – these are ultra-local clusters of public and community services and they have been springing up across the country in response to the crisis. The concept of the ‘hub’ is vital to the emergence of the new, decentralised, anti-silo public service model the report argues for. If this crisis has taught us anything it is that it is time to replace the vertical hierarchies which can constrain and frustrate the professionals and volunteers delivering public services.


If you are interested in Community/Family hubs and what they mean in a practical sense, Mutual Ventures and the Family Hubs Network ran a recent webinar (link) on this topic.


Mutuals and Co-operatives are the social/public service/business model of the future – the report recognises the power of involvement and ownership as a mechanism for both community/staff empowerment and better decision making. The report calls for a “reignition” of the programme that supported appropriate community based public services (like community care, libraries, adult social care) to move to a more community based/owned model.


Mutual Ventures and Bates Wells hosted a webinar (link) on “Co-operative approaches to recovery” and the vital role organisations such as mutuals and social enterprises can play in providing a “bridge” between public services and communities.


Knowledge is power – Data sharing is critical to achieve the change this report argues for. Enthusiasm and effort can be wasted if you don’t know where the actual problems are. The report sensibly calls for action on both the part of the government and councils to share more data and on organisations who use the data to ensure the results and insights of their own work are also captured and shared. There are some very exciting advancements in data analytics which, with access to big enough data sets, can allow scarce public resources to be directed to where they are really needed to prevent families and individuals reaching crisis point.


If you are interested in this, Mutual Venture and Xantura ran a webinar (link) on the potential for data analytics to support social workers to target their efforts and make better decisions.


To hear more about MV’s work with public services and how we could help you, contact Andrew on andrew@mutualventures.co.uk.