UCL Grand Challenges


Story of the Project

Participants at introductory workshop
Introductory roundtable (February 2019)


The project is a collaboration between UCL’s Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality, UCL Public Policy, and the Resolution Foundation, funded by UCL’s Knowledge Exchange Fund (HEIF). Conceived of by Siobhan Morris, Katherine Welch, and in collaboration with Matthew Whittaker, the project aims to break through the silos that can sometimes arise when focusing on an area as broad as ‘inequality’.

Jointly chaired by Professor Nick Gallent, Professor of Housing and Planning at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning, and Matthew Whittaker, Deputy Director of the Resolution Foundation, over the course of the last nine months, the project has convened six roundtables and undertaken numerous in‑depth interviews with research, business, third sector, and policy experts from a range of disciplines, policy areas, sectors and locations.

By assembling such a diverse range of perspectives, we have been deliberately broad in scope, addressing multiple and inter‑related inequalities across four key policy areas: education; employment; health; and, housing.

Discussions at the six roundtable workshops focused on reviewing and synthesising our understanding of inequalities, identifying gaps in our collective knowledge, and responses to these to facilitate informed, joined‑up policy making at all levels of government and in research agendas. Briefing papers and summaries of discussions from each roundtable were prepared by Fahmida Rahman, Oliver Patel and Dr Clare Stainthorp.

Alongside their roles in leading the project, Dr Olivia Stevenson and Siobhan Morris conducted multiple interviews with Civil Servants and policy professionals to supplement discussions. Additionally, a total of 38 meetings with key influencers and experts from NGOs, charities, think tanks, and business leaders were also held to ensure a breadth of views and insights across the devolved nations.

The project team also tested initial findings through a series of engagements. This has included an interim discussion of findings at the Equally Ours Policy Forum in London, a talk entitled, “Why intersectionality is key to tackling inequality” to the UK Communities Foundation AGM in Glasgow, presenting the project and issue of structural inequality at a one day conference for sixth form students from schools across the South of England.

Through all of these activities, the work has forged networks and relationships that didn’t previously exist, but which we hope will bear considerable future fruit in terms of collaborations and the deepening of our collective understanding of structural inequalities in the UK. We look forward to discussing where next, for both research and policy initiatives, aimed at tackling inequalities.

siobhan-clareSiobhan Morris and Dr Clare Stainthorp present on educational inequalities (July 2019)

On 9 October 2019, the project's main report, Structurally Unsound, was launched at a public event at the Resolution Foundation. Sir Simon Woolley, Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote, and Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society were the key note speakers, alongside Siobhan Morris, Dr Olivia Stevenson and Matt Whittaker. Read the report here or watch a recording of the launch here.