Plans for regional levelling up directors may be dropped, MPs told

Government plans to appoint a series of regional levelling up directors have been put on hold and may be abandoned altogether, MPs have been told.

Levelling Up minister Dehenna Davison told a cross-party committee of MPs that no directors have yet been appointed and that the recruitment process was now the subject of an internal review.

A senior official in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) acknowledged the review could result in the plan being dropped entirely.

The proposal to appoint 12 regional levelling up directors – nine for England and one each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – was contained in Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove’s white paper published last February.

The posts – with an annual salary of £120,000 to £144,000 – were advertised in April, attracting more than 500 applications, but nine months on, the Government has yet to announce any appointments.

Giving evidence to the Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Ms Davison said the recruitment process was now the subject of an internal review to ensure they got it “absolutely spot on”.

“There was some work done over the summer with some interviews run for levelling up directors,” she said.

“We want to make sure that when we put directors in place they are doing the right work and we have got the right people there. There is a bit of an internal review going on at the moment.”

However Jessica Blakely, the director of levelling up major programmes at DLUHC, said there was a “pause and reassessment” which could mean no directors would be appointed.

“I think what the minister is trying to say is that we are reviewing that process at moment,” she said.

“There is a reconsideration of whether we are going to appoint directors out of that specific process. Part of that reconsideration does involve whether or not we will have directors at all, I am assuming.

“That is basically not the question that we have answered as yet because that forms part of the review – if that makes sense?”