1. In case anyone is wondering why I have not yet referenced last week’s Levelling Up White Paper; it isn’t because I have missed it or underestimate its obvious strategic importance. At this point I don’t feel I can say much that would add anything of value to what is a physically larger, broad-based paper, with big ambitions, covering most areas of Government, with potentially significant implications for almost everywhere, with a target delivery (completed) date of 2030.
Little or nothing within it is absolutely new. It is largely a compendium of policies and initiative that have already been agreed and announced, which means from our prospective that any immediate opportunity to shape them has already passed. Even the flagship devolution proposals for England aren’t exactly new. Some areas have already agreed to adopt devolved powers (power[s] in my book a mix of: authority, accountability, adequate recourse and responsibility) Some (many?) others have rejected devolution deal in an earlier form, presumably for good reason? I am not qualified to comment on whether the new devolution proposals are significantly different, offer greater benefits and, in particular, greater resources to deliver and are therefore more or less appealing. That hopefully is something that local authority-based members destinations can help me better understand?
Normally I would try to point you to key passages and reference to tourism to save you the effort of finding them. There are less than dozen fleeting references to tourism or associated issues, several of them historic, none of which that I can see add much to the tourism debate, albeit we should be pleased with the acknowledgement. Disappointingly the was no reference to the England DMO review. That might be a simple issue of timing, as the DCMS announcements have yet to be made, or indicative that the review’s recommendation to establish a pan England network that would surely have contributed to the levelling up ambitions, has not found favour, at least not favour and funding for an England wide roll out?
The 17-page summary and a 332-page White Paper, together with a 27-page Delivery for all parts of the UK documents and a further set of technical annexes and matrix (extremely useful for some), can all be accessed from one page. If nothing else it is worth scanning both the summary and delivery document: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/levelling-up-the-united-kingdom
2. Of potential far greater immediate interest for destination managers is the simultaneous issue of the UK Shared Prosperity fund pre-launch guidance. This document outlines the nature of the fund, its criteria and gives indicative amounts potentially available to whom in what circumstances. It urges local authorities, Combined Authorities down to Districts, as appropriate, to start their planning and negotiations with partners now (assuming they haven’t already?).
If you haven’t already got to grip with the potential opportunities for tourism and the visitor economy arising for the fund and started restating the case for tourism, culture etc. within your organisation and/or with partners, now is time to at least start thinking about it if not doing it with some vigor. As has been pointed out to me by Andrew Bateman with his TMI policy hat on, the structure of the fund and accountabilities, begs some interesting questions for policies and places where local authorities have disengaged from or arms lengthened tourism as previously encouraged: UK Shared Prosperity Fund: pre-launch guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
3. Confirmation of the delayed announcements of DCMS comprehensive spending review allocations are now trickling out from via other departmental announcements. I am not aware of a central DCMS announcement or as yet the critical VB and hopefully the DMO review’s allocation, if any, within that. We are told that a formal response to the DMO review will be published in due course, but are very unclear as to what that promise indicates. Hopefully that response will be preceded by or include within it an adequate allocation to make some or all the key recommendation work, preferably at a meaningful, pan England level.