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  • Writer's pictureCharity Chat Podcast

E181 - The Levelling up agenda with Leah Davis

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

“...if we don’t take this opportunity now to influence it, and to shape what the government's thinking in some of those local areas, it could be the case that for … a decade again charities aren’t really being involved in things, in decision making, and largely left out…” - Leah Davis

In this episode we speak with Leah Davis Head of Policy and External Affairs at NPC.

We speak about the British Government’s Levelling Up Agenda. We discuss what this looks like, how it seeks to address the inequalities that we see across the UK, what opportunities this poses for some charities and how they can make the most of it.

1. The Levelling Up Agenda

The Levelling Up Agenda that the UK government has announced comes at a time where inequalities have been further highlighted by the pandemic and we have all seen that when money is needed to deal with an emergency it can be found.

The agenda focuses on four key areas: boosting productivity, pay, jobs and living standards; spreading opportunities to improve public services; restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging; and empowering local leaders and communities. I’m sure that many of us can see the benefit that this would bring to those we are seeking to support. And as Leah said, these areas cover a lot of the work that charities are already working towards.

2. The system changes we need

At a time where our health service and other public services, and even our publicly funded national broadcaster are under pressure, the changes that are coming have the potential of making life better or worse for us and the people we are supporting.

It can feel that given the pressures, and frantic nature of much of our sector’s work at the moment, we don’t have time to consider this, nor the appetite for getting caught up in some of the wider conversations, or even culture wars that surround it.

3. Opportunities for charities?

For charities that are regionally based, the Levelling Up agenda speaks to the work that they have been doing for a long time now. The inequalities we see today in our society have formed over many years, and this paper offers long-term solutions, which some charities may benefit from.

Leah explained that the agenda mentions charities and civil society a lot, which brings me hope that this is an opportunity for our sector to have a chance of a closer and more effective collaboration with the government.

Leah caveated this by highlighting that there is little new money being promised, and this will come as a blow to many given the clear inequities in our society and the long-term costs to so many of the poorest in our society. With rising prices, including energy and national insurance hikes, those with the least will have even less, and this seems to conflict with this Levelling Up Agenda. Regardless of the challenges and the support of government, our sector will be needed more than ever over the coming years to deal with the likely rise in inequality and poverty.

However, some glimmer of hope that came out of this conversation was how every policy, and government agenda has the potential to be shaped by voices. And with the lived experiences of our sector, and the passion of the many hundreds of thousands working in it, and millions supporting it, this could be the time for a cacophony to shape the future for us and those that come after us.

4. A shared vision and working towards it

At a time where other governments are exploring new ways of dealing with poverty, such as universal basic income, we should all consider how trialling new ways of doing things and seeing things could help us with short, medium and long-term success in the work that we do.

It is just as important that we focus enough time on these alternative views to drive new thoughts and ideas and contribute, push, encourage and deliver for those in our society who need it most.

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good believes everyone should be able to turn the work they do into good. Through their fundraising platform, they offer charities a way to engage and work with small businesses, including founders, owners and sole traders who want to make an impact for charities through their sales. To find out more, please visit

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E170 - Is Charging Beneficiaries The Route To Sustainability With Joe Saxton

E166 - Social Issues And Charities With Dan Corry

E146 - Diversifying our sector with Kemar Walford


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