Skills are a key determinant of the success of people and places. Levelling up must address the root causes that are holding cities and large towns back.
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The widely held, but wrongly assumed, belief that cities are rich and towns are poor will make levelling up even more difficult if it shapes policy.
What the Chancellor needs to focus on in the Spending Review 2020 to put local economies in the best position to bounce back, level up and decarbonise.
Despite claimant count remaining unchanged or declining in almost every city and large town over the past month, places are entering this second lockdown in a much weaker position than in March.
Job postings are slower to recover where more people work from home and high-street footfall remains low, making it harder for redundant workers to find jobs.
While over the summer many social distancing restrictions were lifted almost everywhere, this was not reflected in the same way in local labour markets.
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Unemployment claims continue to rise, but at a slower pace, suggesting the gradual phase out of the job retention scheme has not translated into unemployment. At least not yet.
Covid-19 has encouraged places to look for new sources of knowledge and new tools, but a lack of cohesiveness is limiting what can be done.
The Prime Minister’s adult skills announcements are a welcome step to support people adapt to the changing labour market while helping places ‘level up’ – the next step should be investment in job creation.