Conservative voters in areas prioritised for levelling up funding want the government to deliver on its regeneration promise within three years, according to a new poll.

The YouGov poll for the Law Family Commission on Civil Society found that 77% of adults who want levelling up in the 123 local authority areas prioritised for funding would be “happy” if it was delivered within three years.

But that proportion dropped to just 37% when asked to consider a five-year programme of delivery.

Among Tory voters, the poll found only 20% would be “disappointed” if levelling up in their area took three years. But this number leapt to 63% if levelling up was delivered within five years.

The survey was based on a poll of 1,011 adults in the government’s levelling up priority one areas between August 26 and August 31.

It found that 70% of those polled believe their area needs levelling up and want to see it delivered.

Notably, 63% of these people said they expect that the government will deliver, increasing pressure on the newly-formed Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which has been tasked with delivering on Boris Johnson’s key pledge to voters in “left-behind” communities.

There is also a notable difference in expectations for levelling up between those living in the North and the South.

The poll found that 32% of adults living in the North, including many of the so-called ‘red wall’ voters, believe they will benefit from levelling up. But just 17% of adults in the South, excluding London and including Tory heartlands in Kent and Sussex, believe the same.

Earlier this year, the government announced a £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund to support its pledge to level up prosperity across the UK.

It splits the 368 eligible local authorities in Great Britain into three categories – priority one, two and three – with priority one areas having “the highest levels of identified need”.

Many of the red wall northern seats taken from Labour in the 2019 election fall under the priority one list.

The fund, which runs until 2025, is focused overwhelmingly on investment in physical infrastructure, including town centre and high street regeneration and local transport, as well as cultural and heritage assets.

The Commission is calling on the government to put greater emphasis on funding for communities and social infrastructure.


Matt Whittaker, LFCCS Commissioner and CEO of Pro Bono Economics, said:

“The Prime Minister has made levelling up the country’s left behind communities the cornerstone of his government’s agenda. It’s an ambition welcomed by residents in those communities, but only if today’s rhetoric can be turned quickly into evident progress.

“With the overwhelming majority of levelling up funding currently earmarked for grey infrastructure like roads and railways, there is a potential problem for the government, as these projects typically take many years to generate benefits at the community level.

“If the government is to move at the pace preferred by those living in these communities – and by their own voters in particular – then it should divert more levelling up funding into social infrastructure.

“By investing in community assets and engaging civil society in the levelling up process, the government can bring real change to people’s lives before they run out of patience.”

For further information, please contact:

PBE Press Office at [email protected] or 07715 073433. Follow Pro Bono Economics at (@ProBonoEcon) and Matt Whittaker (@MattWhittakerPB) on Twitter.