The long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper has finally been published this week. While much of the attention has inevitably focused on the fact that it comes with no new money, it could nonetheless signal a seismic shift in policy from a predominant focus on the drivers of economic productivity to one more based around improving healthy life expectancy, wellbeing and pride in place.

Talk around levelling up often focuses on investment in major infrastructure projects such as roads, rail and high-speed internet connections – and they are once again in there – but that is not what makes a difference to most people’s daily lives.

In a YouGov poll Karbon commissioned last year, more people ranked health and wellbeing and quality of life as the more important areas for the Government to focus on in its levelling up agenda than jobs, economic productivity and income.  Twenty-two per cent of the 1,684 people polled said they want the Government to focus on health and wellbeing as their priority with a further 19% ranking quality of life. Increasing household income, economic productivity and job opportunities all came lower down their list of priorities.

In the past, governments have focused solely on economic productivity metrics to determine which areas get what levels of funding. We know that this hasn’t worked and has left many areas feeling more ‘left behind’ than ever before.

Hopefully the proposals laid out in the new White Paper, including, for example, the scrapping of the 80:20 rule which has previously prioritised housing development funding for areas of high market demand, will see greater investment in areas that have not benefitted in the past. This in turn should have a greater impact on improving the health and quality of day-to-day life for people living there.

Our survey also found that more people believed that investing in housing and health and social care would be more effective in reducing inequalities between regions than support for business.

We weren’t surprised by these findings. We know that good quality housing, and regeneration in areas that really need it, has a positive impact on people’s quality of life day to day. We see it time and again, and we believe that our current programme of development in towns, cities and villages across the North East will contribute towards levelling up inequalities between places and regions.

One of our key priorities at Karbon Homes is to shape strong, sustainable places, working with local communities and local partners to provide homes, services and community support to ensure neighbourhoods thrive. With additional Government funding invested in these areas, we can help to make a real difference to local communities in the North East.