Published by PwC, the report ‘Future of Government, Rethinking Levelling-Up’, surveyed 4,000 people across the UK and highlighted housing, high streets, jobs and skills as the issues people were concerned with.
The research found that 28% of respondents recommended Northern Ireland as a good place to start up a family while 12% of respondents agreed with the idea that society treated them fairly, compared to 6% in Scotland and Wales.
Government and Health Industries lead for PwC NI, Dr David Armstrong, who helped conceive and deliver the research, hailed the report as a “significant statement of confidence in Northern Ireland”.
He said: “People are now thinking more about the quality of life they want to lead which has led to an exodus from a number of big cities. With many companies now planning remote working into their future plans – there a major opportunity for Northern Ireland to attract people seeking to relocate.”
As a consequence of Covid-19 people are increasingly working from home which has highlighted issues affecting their local communities.
Three quarters of respondents from Northern Ireland felt they would like to see access to better quality and more affordable housing as a means of reducing inequality.
With lockdown meaning more people than ever are shopping online, town centre were still seen as a place to socialise and spend leisure time with 43% of respondents stating they would like to see investment in their local town centres and high street.
Karen Finlayson, Regional lead for Government at PWC stated: “Levelling up’ has become shorthand for big infrastructure and connectivity investments, but it’s clear that moving beyond the slogans and making levelling up a reality for the public will take investment in local places, jobs and homes.
“A year of people living closer to home has recalibrated what is important and the levelling up agenda needs to be reset around hyper-local targeted investment and building community resilience.”
More than 40% of respondents from Northern Ireland said the pandemic has brought their community closer together, but only 28% here felt their community had been treated fairly.
The Northern Ireland Executive received the least positive scores across all areas when compared to the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies.
Just 4% of people here agreed with the statement ‘They treat me like an individual’ compared to 13% in Scotland and 7% in Wales.
Dr Armstrong added: “It’s clear that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure ‘levelling-up’ delivers on its promises. However it’s important to note where work is being done such as the Government’s Bounce Back plans for Northern Ireland’s tech sector, which should help boost our economic recovery from the combined challenges of Covid-19, as well as Brexit.”
— to www.newsletter.co.uk