As we think about how evangelicals across the UK can engage with the government’s levelling up agenda, we look at seven of the missions set out in the white paper.

At the beginning of February, the UK government published their 332-page white paper on levelling up, detailing the regional inequalities that exist throughout the UK and the policies that they are putting in place in attempt to eradicate these. The main feature of the paper is 12 missions, crossing different policy areas, which are set to be fulfilled by 2030.

This briefing has been written with the intention of helping our members to understand these missions and the policy programmes designed to support their delivery. To make this as useful as possible, we have identified seven missions that we believe will be most relevant to our members. For details on the other five missions, please refer to chapter 3 of the levelling up white paper.

Before looking at these seven missions, it is important to note two things. First, much of the policies outlined in the white paper are policies that have already been announced over the last couple of years, some of which are already being delivered. This summary primarily draws attention to policies that have been introduced for the first time in the white paper. Second, while much of the plans outlined are specific to England, the UK government has expressed an intention to work in partnership with devolved administrations to ensure that levelling up is delivered countrywide, while still respecting devolution. Therefore, our intention is to work with members across the UK as we engage in this policy area.



Regional disparities in young children’s educational attainment highlights that the opportunities given to children to learn need to be equalised across the country. Currently, 75 per cent of young children reach a good level of development by age five in the south east of England, compared with 69 per cent in the north west (p187).

Mission: By 2030, the number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased. In England, this will mean 90 per cent of children will achieve the expected standard, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by over a third.

Some of the key policy proposals set out by the government in attempt to improve education are: the introduction of new Education Investment Areas (EIAs) in which any schools that are consistently deemed to require improvement” by Ofsted will be moved into multi-academy trusts; the creation of 11 new specialist maths schools; the assurance that talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds will have access to a college, sixth form or academy that will stand them in good stead to get into university; the publishing of a schools white paper that will focus on improving literacy and numeracy; and the improvement of children’s social care and special education and disability services.


The regional inequality in health can be seen in the 18.6 year gap between the healthy life expectancy in Blackpool, where men can expect to live 53.3 years in good health, compared to Richmond-upon-Thames, where men can expect to live 71.9 years in good health.

Mission: By 2030, the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed, and by 2035 HLE will rise by five years.

In response to these inequalities, the UK government are promising: the publishing of a white paper on health disparities in England in 2022, focussing on prevention and disparities by ethnicity, socioeconomic background and geography; the publishing of the Tobacco Control Plan for England in 2022; work to improve participation in screening programmes by under-served groups; the publishing of the food strategy white paper; and tackling the backlog created by Covid-19 with £2.3bn of investment in diagnostic services.


According to the Office of National Statistics, the most productive (and often prosperous places) have the lowest level of life satisfaction (p24), highlighting that tackling the economic inequalities that exist in the UK alone is not enough to improve the wellbeing of the nation. There is a need for a specific focus on wellbeing in the levelling up plans.

Mission: By 2030, wellbeing will have improved in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.

Despite this mission being solely about improving wellbeing, there are no specific steps set out in the white paper of how this will be achieved.

Pride in place

As stated in the white paper, the atmosphere of decline created by tired high streets, dilapidated buildings and poor quality housing can undermine pride in place and economic dynamism” (p207). The ongoing pandemic has placed even more strain on high streets, and local communities are struggling as a result.

Mission: By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.

In attempt to change this, the government has set out a series of plans covering three main areas: regeneration; communities; and culture, heritage and sport. These plans include: investing money into brownfield and high street regeneration; investing £560m funding into a new National Youth Guarantee which will create more youth provisions, refurbish youth facilities, and create more volunteering opportunities; the development of a new Strategy for Community Spaces and Relationship; the creation of community covenants which will give communities choice in how they are governed; a significant increase in cultural investment outside of London; and the investment of £25m across the UK to upgrade grassroots sports facilities.


Housing inequality remains a prominent symptom of the larger economic inequality in the UK. Around 96,000 households are currently homeless in temporary accommodation in England, including 59,000 families (p223). In order to tackle housing inequality, the government has stated that their priority is home ownership and improving housing quality in England.

Mission: By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50 per cent, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.

The £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme that has previously been announced by the government should deliver up to 180,000 affordable homes, 75 per cent of which will be outside of London, with the government vowing to turn Generation Rent’ into Generation Buy’.

Further proposals that they have made in the white paper include: schemes to encourage empty homes back into use; the publishing of another white paper this spring focussed on the private rented sector, which will include an end to no-fault evictions; and the introduction of a Social Housing Regulation Bill.

Despite reducing homelessness” being stated as a key part of tackling housing issues, there was very little mention of tackling homelessness in the policy programme. The only policy relating to homelessness that was mentioned was the £2bn investment into tackling homelessness that the government had already introduced in 2021.


According to Home Office Statistics, nearly a quarter of all neighbourhood crime in 2018 – 19 was concentrated in just five per cent of local areas (p228). For these areas, tackling crime will be an important part of making their communities feel safe and happy places to lives, as well as reducing inequality.

Mission: By 2030, homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime will have fallen, focused on the worst affected areas.

Much of the strategy to deal with crime laid out in the white paper are measures that have already been taken or announced. These include: funding an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales; a Safer Streets Fund focussed on preventing neighbourhood crime, crime in public spaces and violence against women and girls; the implementation of a 10-year drug strategy; extending Project ADDER (addiction, diversion, disruption, enforcement and recovery) until the end of March 2025; and investment to increase the amount of unpaid work that offenders deliver.

Local leadership

In order to better address local issues, the UK government have identified local leadership as an area where development is needed, with an emphasis on increased devolution in England.

Mission: By 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.

The policy steps laid out to empower local leaders are: the extension of devolution in England through the introduction of mayors in more areas; encouraging private-sector led partnerships across the UK; and targeted funding towards places with most significant need.

What's next?

Over the coming months, we will be identifying and working within the areas of levelling up policy in which we believe the evangelical church can use its expertise and have the most influence. As we engage with forthcoming white papers and proposed legislation, we will work in close partnership with our members working in relevant fields. As the levelling up agenda spans across the UK, our team will be holding the government and other policymakers to account on the promises that are made and would encourage you to join with us in this.

Have you read Why should Christians care about the government’s plans to level up’?