Centre for Labour & Social Studies report: What will it really take to level-up?

Inequality in the UK has gone from bad to worse. The economic gap between UK regions is the starkest of any comparable developed nation but this is not where our inequality problem starts or ends.

Whether it be inequalities between groups, between regions, within regions, in wealth or in who has power and who doesn’t, the conclusion is the same – the UK is one of the most unequal rich countries in the world.

And these inequalities are deadly. Covid-19 infections and death have been marked by race and ethnicity, by education, by the level of deprivation and by geography. Pre-existing inequalities are continuing to shape who dies and who lives, just as the pandemic itself creates new disparities.

The papers in this report – covering regional investment, wages, industrial strategy, devolution, education, race, health, transport and tax – highlight the gap between the need and the policies that have been put in place, but also go further to populate a policy agenda that really could deliver equality in the UK.

Key findings include:

  • ‘Levelling up’ does not exist in any meaningful sense in terms of policy, resource or outcome.
  • ‘Levelling up’ defined purely in terms of regional inequality lacks credibility
  • The Conservatives have been levelling down the UK for the past decade
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has levelled the UK down further
  • Current funding being made available is a drop in the ocean, and risks leaving the UK lagging behind other EU nations
  • This isn’t the first attempt at ‘levelling up’
  • We need structural change in our economy
  • There is too much power concentrated in Westminster
  • There is money to tackle the UK’s inequality problem

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