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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Leading think tank puts Hastings residents' views in the spotlight

A leading think tank has today published research findings detailing the views of Hastings residents about the ‘levelling up’ agenda. 

As part of a major research project to develop a new, citizen led approach to ‘levelling up’ after the government’s own approach has failed to deliver, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) came to Hastings to work with local people and empower them to design their own vision for the future of the town. 

Researchers at the think tank chose Hastings because it is a town with many cultural and historical assets but is also undergoing rapid change, with many social and economic challenges remaining. 

The researchers found that local people didn’t feel that politics in the UK, nor the levelling up agenda, were working for them. They empowered Hastings residents to design a new levelling up agenda for the town. This vision included: 

Investment in public services, especially healthcare, childcare and transport. 

Empowered communities that are involved meaningfully in the design of public policies. As part of this, residents were keen to harness community power to take ownership of local assets for community use. 

And a genuinely positive future for the town that builds on Hastings’ unique heritage and culture. Local people wanted the future to be environmentally friendly, and envisioned urban farming, local renewable energy, and affordable and reliable public transport as part of this. 

This locally developed vision from and for Hastings will influence a major national report, expected to be published by IPPR early next year. 

The senior research fellow leading the research for IPPR, Jonathan Webb said:   

“Three years ago the government was elected on a promise to level up the country. But despite the rhetoric of the levelling up agenda, the reality is that the promise remains unmet. 

“But people in places like Hastings deserve nothing less than to experience a bright future. A bottom-up approach to levelling up is desperately needed. 

“The people of Hastings are experts in their own lives and community. They are far better placed than politicians in Westminster to design a levelled-up future that will work for them. That’s why we came to work in Hastings – because the answers to some of the country’s biggest policy challenges lie in the hopes and ideas of local people.”