The United Kingdom is a multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-ethnic state with a vibrantly creative arts sector; a National Health Service that ensures care for every citizen that performs a million acts of kindness every day; globally renowned industries such as Hair and Beauty, and entrepreneurs developing products and services that bring creativity and job opportunities. However, not everyone benefits equally from the UK's successes. While talent is distributed evenly across the UK, the opportunity is not.

As the news on Levelling Up has hit the headlines in recent days, this blog looks at what exactly is Levelling Up and how it may affect the hair and beauty industry.

What is Levelling Up?

Levelling up is a chance to confront and correct inequity in the UK. Allowing everyone to succeed is what levelling up entails. The Levelling Up White Paper was published on 2 February 2022 and set out the Government to spread opportunity more equally across the UK - a key part of the Conservative party’s 2019 manifesto commitment.

It includes 12 UK-wide missions and objectives that the Government and country will reach by 2030. Further detail and information on specific policy interventions will follow the White Paper and build on funding set out in the 2021 Autumn Spending Review.

Opposition parties have said that the document is full of ‘empty slogans’. A number of business organisations have initially welcomed the document as an important first step, but they need to see and look at more of the detail.

What Levelling Up isn’t

It is not the goal of levelling up to make every portion of the UK the same or pit one part of the country against another. It also does not imply stifling the achievements of more fortunate communities. Indeed, by expanding opportunities throughout the United Kingdom, the goal is to ease the strain on public services, housing, and green space in the South East. Furthermore, by increasing output in the North and Midlands, levelling up can boost wellbeing in the South West. So, the government’s intention is for it to be about the success of the whole country: realising the potential of every place and every person across the UK, building on their unique strengths, spreading opportunities for individuals and businesses, and celebrating every single city, town and village’s culture.

How Levelling Up will be funded

The White Paper sets out no additional money beyond funding previously announced in the Spending Review in the autumn 2021 in terms of funding.

That’s fine for those towns and areas that are already benefitting from existing funds but not so good for other areas that haven’t benefitted from regeneration funding.

For example, 101 towns across England received £2.4bn from the Towns Fund to unleash their economic potential. The £830m Future High Streets Fund regenerated 72 towns and high streets and helped them recover from the pandemic.

However, the document also sets out that there will be ‘transformational projects’ available for 20 additional areas that can show leadership to secure funding.

High street scene

What could it mean for the Hair & Beauty industry?

The 12 medium-term missions or aims/objectives are set out in the full report and include by 2030:

  • pay, employment and productivity will have risen in every area of the UK.
  • local public transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.
  • the UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population.
  • A positive aspect is that they don’t just cover pay, jobs, productivity and economic measurement but wellbeing, health, digital connectivity, skills, education, transport too, which are all important to local areas.

A critic may say that the 2030 deadline gives the Government the next two general elections not to have to account for delivery. However, the Government also points out that it is down to a ‘collective’ effort and not just the Government alone.

Two areas of interest to the Hair and Beauty sector in terms of the missions are:

- By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between top-performing and other areas closing.

Salons and barbershops, as we know, are the lynchpin in the future of many high streets and engaged in their local community in many ways. For a sector that excels in wellbeing, we can make an important contribution to the following mission:

- By 2030, wellbeing will have improved in every area of the UK, with the gap between top-performing and other areas closing.

High Streets policy

This refers to the previously committed £1.7bn of temporary business rates relief in 2022-23 for up to 400,000 retail, hospitality and leisure properties to support the high street until the next revaluation. With the announcement of a freeze in the business rates multiplier worth £4.6bn over the next five years, all ratepayers in England will see a tax cut.

The High Streets Task Force is helping communities regenerate their high streets to reflect evolving local needs. It is already supporting 84 local authorities with access to expert support in areas such as placemaking, planning and design. The UK Government is now announcing the next 68 local authorities to receive this expert support from the Task Force, including Southend-on-Sea, Somerset West and Taunton, Rossendale and Dudley.

Future measures to be announced include incentivising landlords to fill vacant units by giving local authorities the power to require landlords to rent out vacant properties to prospective tenants. This will tackle both supply and demand side issues to avoid high levels of high street vacancies and blight and, in turn, increase the attractiveness and vitality of the high street.

The NHBF has been campaigning for lower business rates and healthy, vibrant high streets and therefore welcomes the initial plans set out in the Levelling Up White paper.

Barber shop pole

Broader skills and lifelong learning agenda

Some of the initiatives around the broader skills agenda could help the quality of skilled individuals coming into the hair and beauty sector, for example:

- By 2030, the number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK. In England, this will lead to 200,000 more people successfully completing high-quality skills training annually, driven by 80,000 more people completing courses in the lowest skilled areas.
- In addition, UK National Academy will be set up; a new digital education service will be free and made available online to support the work of schools up and down the country.
- DfE was piloting new employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) in 2021-22 and supporting providers with Strategic Development Funding to help shape technical skills provision to meet local labour market needs better.

The NHBF has been campaigning for fit-for-purpose industry-specific education and training standards that are recognised, accessible, robust and sufficiently funded, we welcome the outline plans set out in the Levelling Up paper.

Find out how levelling up has benefitted your nation or region so far here:
Delivering for all parts of the UK (

Executive summary here: Levelling Up the United Kingdom: Executive summary
Full report here: Levelling Up the United Kingdom (low-res version)