It’s a testament to former prime minister Boris Johnson’s ability as a storyteller that his most abiding legacy will be the levelling up agenda, which, although less of a priority for Rishi Sunak’s government, is still visible.

Yet to date, it’s often seen as just that: a narrative, not live on the ground. Many key players seem unclear on how to work together or, indeed, understand the value of doing so. Criticism of the most recent round of funding accused it of taking a piecemeal and centralised approach, with little detail on strategic vision.

It is clear that a disconnect between the public and private sectors is holding back levelling up. While there are notable exceptions, the government has not fully tapped into the property sector, which is sceptical that change is really coming. While supportive in principle, the government has yet to make a clear case on the role property has to play.

Yet levelling up has great possibilities for the UK and real estate as an economic opportunity and a social responsibility. Industry bodies are advocating for it and engaging with local and national government, but change will only come when property professionals get to grips with it.

So, what can the industry do to benefit from levelling up, and how can the sector better position itself to ensure the government sees it as a strategic partner?

First, it is critical to recognise the place and purpose of your business in the debate. There is a clear call to action in that levelling up – which must include greening and refurbishing assets in secondary towns and cities – will improve the value of buildings and prevent the risk of stranded assets.

One of the most substantial risks for the property industry is a perception that it is not actively improving the life of the communities in which it works. Advocating for and engaging with levelling up offers a competitive advantage in attracting workplace talent, avoiding increased regulation, and maintaining a competitive edge in appealing to ESG-conscious clients.

Levelling up and social impact must be seen as central to how the industry does business. The opportunities are there and the government is desperate to ensure levelling up works – it’s just a case of real estate connecting the dots and being seen to do it.

Ben Monteith, account director, SEC Newgate UK