UK2070 Commission warns government it must deliver generational shift if levelling up is to succeed
27 February 2020
An independent inquiry into the regional inequalities that have blighted Britain says Government must learn the lessons of the past and think big if it is serious about levelling up the UK economy.
The UK2070 Commission has carried out an 18-month study into the spatial inequalities that have left the UK the most unequal large country in the developed world.
In a series of reports, the Commission’s experts have found that the economic gap between different parts of the UK has widened to the point where London’s productivity growth over the last decade was nine times higher than that of the area covered by the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.
The Commission issues its final report today [Thursday 27th February 2020], with chair Lord Kerslake, the former Head of the Home Civil Service, warning Government that it must “go big or go home” if it is to arrest further economic decline and social division.
Lord Kerslake said: “The Government’s desire to level up the UK economy is welcome. However, the scale of the challenge we face is such that we need a generational shift if we are to avoid serious decline and division.
“Many people in Britain feel left behind by growth elsewhere and that has contributed to an acrimonious debate about Europe. We now face a decade of potential disruption – leaving the European Union, confronting the impact of climate change and adjusting to the fourth industrial revolution.
“Our research shows clearly that these inequalities did not grow up overnight. They reflect an over-centralised system which fails to comprehend the reality of regional need and consistently comes up with policies which are either under-resourced, too fragmented or too short-lived to make a difference. Some policy guidelines have actively stacked the odds against the regions.
“Time is not on our side and we cannot afford to keep on repeating those mistakes. Government must therefore think big, plan big and act at scale. Bluntly, if it can’t go big, it should go home.”
In its final report – ‘Make No Little Plans: Acting At Scale For a Fairer and Stronger Future’ – the UK2070 Commission calls on Government to stand alongside business and community organisations and make a public pledge to tackle inequality through a 10-point programme of action:
- Tripling the new Shared Prosperity Fund to £15bn per annum and continuing that commitment for 20 years - an extra expenditure of £200bn over that already planned.
- Investing in a new connectivity revolution, transforming the connections between cities, within cities and beyond cities to poorly connected towns. Infrastructure investment needs to increase to at least 3% of GDP per annum.
- Creating new ‘Networks of Excellence” in regional Research and Development to match the ‘golden triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge.
- Shifting power and funding away from Westminster and Whitehall through a radical programme of devolution.
- Strengthening the local economies in disadvantaged towns.
- Tackling the historic underperformance of the UK on skills.
For further information about the UK2070 Commission, go to www.uk2070.org.uk/about/
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