Transport a weak area for Levelling Up in the East

Levelling up in the East of England is a welcome ambition but has a “very long way to go”, a ground-breaking report has revealed. With transport assessed as one of the weaker areas.

The report has analysed the East of England’s level of confidence in achieving the Government’s twelve levelling up missions, which were announced in a White Paper in February this year with targets set for 2030. However, there is still a long way to go in the East of England if all twelve missions are to be achieved in the timescales indicated in the White Paper. 

The status of transport

The Levelling Up the East of England 2023-2030 report was prepared by the East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the East of England LGA (EELGA) with universities, business and public sector partners. We led on the transport chapter with input from our neighbouring STB, England’s Economic Heartland. 

We highlighted the car-dependency of the region, with 79% of people using a car or van to travel to work. The levelling up mission target for transport is for local public transport connectivity across the country to be significantly closer to London standards by 2030, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing. With public transport trips across the region accounting for around 7% of all journeys compared to 30% in London, we’ve got a huge challenge.

The main recommendations we made were:

  • More equitable bus funding
  • More control over transport funding for local councils
  • Government commitment to overdue rail projects including Ely and Haughley junctions

Peter Aldous MP for Waveney in Suffolk and Co-chair of the East of England APPG said:  

This ground-breaking report reveals the East of England is an economic success story with high levels of employment and several clusters of R&D and innovation excellence. It is one of only three regions which are net contributors to the Exchequer. However, it is a region where there are also areas of significant deprivation – within our coastal and rural communities and in ‘pockets’ in our towns and cities. Levelling up is as relevant here as it is elsewhere in England. And whilst in some places a good start has been made there is still a very long way to go.

The East and the 12 levelling up missions

The report revealed there is currently only high confidence in achieving three levelling up missions: employment and pay; research and development (R&D); and wellbeing. 

There is medium confidence in achieving four of the missions – those that seek to improve digital connectivity, deliver pride in place, reduce crime and widen devolution.

However, there is low confidence in five policy areas, many of which are those most important to the people and prospects of the East of England: improved educational attainment, more skills, better transport, longer healthy living and more affordable housing to buy and rent. 

The report examines each of the missions in detail, setting out why each mission is so important to our region; providing an assessment of whether the region is on track to deliver the mission; offering an analysis of the threats and opportunities relevant to the mission; and giving recommendations for the Government to be on track to deliver the mission by 2030. It also charts progress on a key issue for the region which was not explicitly included in the Levelling Up White Paper: sustainability, with particular reference to net zero, renewable energy and water security.  

Levelling up the East of England 2023 – 2030 report